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Construction of controversial paid-plasma clinic underway in Moncton

blood plasma
Blood and plasma bags are pictured at a blood collection centre. ProMetic Life Sciences says it's reached a 15-year agreement for a Winnipeg manufacturing plant to process medical plasma using the company's proprietary purification method. Marion Berard / AFP / Getty Images

An Ontario-based company has started construction of a controversial paid-plasma clinic in Moncton.

The CEO of Canadian Plasma Resources, Dr. Barzin Bahardoust, won’t say exactly where it’s being built — only that it’s going to be near the Université de Moncton.

READ MORE: Proposed paid-plasma clinic for N.B. moving forward despite strong opposition

The prospect of a paid-plasma clinic opening in New Brunswick has drawn protests and petitions since it was first announced in June.

Opponents question the ethics of the process, and say it undermines the safety and integrity of the public blood system.

Blood plasma is the yellowish fluid that remains after red and white blood cells and platelets are removed from blood. Fresh plasma is used for transfusions, while processed plasma is processed into pharmaceutical products.

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Plasma donors can give once a week. They are reimbursed by Canadian Plasma Resources with either a charitable tax receipt or a $25 reloadable gift card.

Donation of blood and plasma through Canadian Blood Services is done on a voluntary basis, with no reimbursement.

READ MORE: Pay for plasma: The ethical debate

New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau said most of the plasma products used in Canada already come from paid donors.

“Seventy per cent of what we use in Canada comes from paid donors, and it just so happens that they are American paid donors. I don’t see why we can’t pay Canadians for the same type of donations and for the same products at the end of the day,” Boudreau said.

“There’s nothing in New Brunswick legislation that would prevent them from setting up a clinic in New Brunswick and it’s not our intention to prevent it from happening either.”

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Paid-plasma donation clinics have been banned in Ontario and Quebec.

READ MORE: Controversial plasma collection clinic now open in Saskatoon

It’s hoped construction of the clinic will be complete by the end of this year. The plasma clinic has not yet received approval from Health Canada, but Bahardoust says he hopes it will be approved by February.

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— With files from The Canadian Press