Last week has been key in setting future policy for sustainability of the U.S. blood supply. ABC President Susan Rossmann, MD; Chief Medical Officer Louis Katz, MD; and CEO Christine Zambricki, DNAP, CRNA, FAAN, represented ABC members at several regulatory meetings that could severely impact blood centers, donors, and the communities we serve.
On November 14, the Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability (ACBTSA) Subcommittee on Blood System Sustainability met to provide feedback on the recently completed RAND report “Towards a Sustainable Blood Supply.” As members of the subcommittee, Dr. Katz and I had the opportunity to vigorously critique the RAND report prior to its public viewing. ABC members have also had a chance to review and comment on the report just in time for the ACBTSA meeting on November 28 and 29. ABC leadership will be in attendance and webcasts are available for those unable to attend: November 2016 (Day 1); November 2016 (Day 2)
On November 15, Dr. Katz and I met with the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen DeSalvo, MD, to ensure continuity of essential ABC initiatives with the new administration. We wish to recognize the work of Dr. DeSalvo and staff members Jim Berger and Rich Henry in providing renewed focus on the blood industry’s issues. Dr. DeSalvo was particularly interested in our reaction to the RAND report and the alternative recommendations we proposed. Dr. DeSalvo’s department has requested our assistance in preparing the transition materials for the new administration as it relates to the blood industry.
The Blood Products Advisory Committee (BPAC) held full sessions on November 17 and 18, to discuss iron management of blood donors, considerations for female donors with hemoglobin levels between 12.0 to 12.5 g/dL, and blood collection and adverse events in teenage blood donors. Committee members deliberated about the full range of recommendations before finalizing their votes. Some of the ideas discussed showed little understanding of the complex nature of blood center operations, such as the suggestion that blood centers contact donor’s primary care physicians to manage administration of over the counter iron supplements. The full report of their deliberations is contained elsewhere in this issue, including links to ABC’s public comments. to both the iron management and adverse reactions in teenage donors issues are available.
It’s important to keep in mind that policy and guidance development is an iterative process. The time last week was well spent for a myriad of reasons, not the least being the important work of maintaining a safe and available blood supply in the future; one that incorporates surge capacity, safety innovations, and the insurance value of blood.
Christine Zambricki DNAP, CRNA, FAAN; Chief Executive Officer