The impending influenza pandemic will have implications for global stocks of life-saving blood and blood products, warns Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical company, Octapharma.

But it has reiterated the safety of its plasma derivatives and is working closely with health authorities and plasma suppliers to maintain the safety profile and continuous supply of its lifesaving products.

The threat to blood supplies arises as blood transfusion authorities across the globe remind blood donors to stay away if they have 'flu-like symptoms. In Germany, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which tests blood products on behalf of the German federal health ministry, has recommended against using blood donated by people who have travelled to countries affected by the swine influenza outbreak or who have been in close contact with people who have 'flu-like symptoms or were in 'flu-affected countries in the previous 14 days.

Octapharma makes plasma derivatives used in a range of medical emergencies. The new swine H1N1 virus, with its epicentre in Mexico, does not endanger the safety of Octapharma's products. Octaplas(R), is a virally inactivated pooled plasma, which can be used in emergency situations whenever plasma transfusion is required.

Currently, Octapharma has sufficient supplies of Octaplas(R) to satisfy usual client demand. Production can be increased by up to 30 percent if demand increases. Octapharma already provides 100 per cent of plasma needs with Octaplas(R) for transfusion in Norway, Finland and Portugal.

During the manufacture of Octaplas(R), the product undergoes a solvent-detergent treatment that destroys the lipid enveloped membrane of a virus, making it inactive and unable to infect.

All influenza viruses are lipid enveloped viruses and not very resistant to inactivation. The H1N1 virus is completely inactivated by the procedures used in the manufacture of Octaplas(R) and other blood-derived biopharmaceutical products.

Octapharma

The Octapharma Group is an independent, Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company operating worldwide. Octapharma's core business is the development, production, and sale of high-quality human proteins for the treatment of life-threatening diseases. The Group has more than 3,000 employees in 28 countries, and owns five modern, state-of-the-art production facilities in Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, and Mexico, respectively.

Octapharma's company mission is to provide safe and effective biopharmaceutical products derived from human blood plasma to patients in need of lifesaving therapy.

Source: Octapharma

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