Sunday, July 28, 2013

Here’s a Great Idea Britain – Sell the Blood Plasma Operations to One of the Greediest American Buyout Companies

Doesn’t Everyone Want Critical Blood Supply Managed by a “Profit Above Everything Else” Bain Capital

This Forum is not a foe of privatization, that many government functions can be better handled by the private sector.  But processing blood plasma, which is currently done in Britain by its National Health Service does not seem like a good candidate.  The reason, private companies have a huge incentive to cut costs, cut corners, do anything to make a profit.  Mess up the blood plasma processing and you kill people.

But Conservatives in Britain are not willing to let public health stand in the way of ideology.

The Department of Health overlooked several healthcare or pharmaceutical firms and at least one blood plasma specialist before choosing to sell an 80 per cent stake in Plasma Resources UK to Bain Capital, the company co-founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a £230m deal. The Government will retain a 20 per stake and a share of potential future profits.

At least one person who has the credentials to comment on all of this is appalled.

Lord Owen, the former Health Minister, wrote to David Cameron earlier this year asking the Prime Minister to intervene and halt the sale. “In 1975, against some resistance from those guarding the finances of the DHSS budget, I decided as Minister of Health to invest in self-sufficiency in the UK for blood and blood products,” he wrote. “I now believe this country is on the point of making exactly the same mistake again. The world plasma supply line has been in the past contaminated and I fear it will almost certainly continue to be contaminated.”

After hearing of the sale Lord Owen told The Independent: “It’s hard to conceive of a worse outcome for a sale of this particularly sensitive national health asset than a private equity company with none of the safeguards in terms of governance of a publicly quoted company and being answerable to shareholders.

And an academic, presumably an objective voice also weighs in.

Lucy Reynolds from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wrote  an academic paper earlier this year strongly arguing against the sale of PRUK.

She said the Coailtion deal undervalued the company adding: "Plasma supplies have a long record of being operated on a not for profit basis, using voluntary donors where all the necessary checks take place. The difference with a commercial firm is that they will want to have as many donors as possible and be looking to secure large profits first and foremost.

"This amounts to the government abandoning UK blood products users to the tender mercies of the cheapest supplier."

And where will the newly privatized company get its blood supply?  Oh they pay for it at DCI centers.

Plasma donors at DCI centres in the US receive cash for each donation, typically around $25 for the first visit and $20 for any subsequent visit. People can donate up to twice a week.

So yes, in addition to everything else one can say about Bain Capital, now they are literally Blood Suckers.

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