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Blood Transfusions

Volume 461: debated on Friday 15 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors she will take into account when making a decision on whether to instigate prion filtration in blood transfusion. (142831)

The Department will take advice on the use of prion reduction filters from independent evaluations recommended by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee to test the efficacy and reproducibility of the filters, an approach endorsed by Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues and Organs. The Department will take the following factors into account when considering prion reduction filters: the results of clinical safety trials and whether they indicate no adverse effect on patients with the use of filtered blood; that filtered blood units meet the required product specification; the results of an independent evaluation of the efficacy of the filtered in reducing variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) infectivity in blood; estimates of the prevalence of preclinical vCJD or a carrier state in the donor population and consequent estimates of infections prevented through filtration and the benefit of life years saved; the cost of implementation of filtration compared with the benefit received and the availability of other technologies to reduce infectivity in blood.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if her Department will introduce new treatments and technologies to reduce the risk to public health from blood transfusions on the basis of successful patient trials in Europe and the US. (142833)

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has a duty to investigate any new technologies which might improve the safety of the blood supply. Currently, NHSBT is investigating vCJD screening, new filters to remove infectious prions, bacterial screening of platelets and pathogen inactivation of platelets. Such assessments consist of review of manufacturers’ data on efficacy and quality of the product, laboratory studies and clinical trials as appropriate. NHSBT might need to perform additional studies. Only licenced methods are considered.

All blood safety measures are considered by the Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood, Tissues, and Organs for Transplantation.