FDA Issues Emergency Blood Guidelines
To speed the transportation of blood products to areas affected by Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the FDA on Sept. 11th released new emergency guidelines allowing donated blood to be shipped to crisis areas before HIV and hepatitis C testing is complete. An FDA statement says that due to the "recognized need for rapid and high volume blood collections under non-routine circumstances," some blood may have to be shipped before all testing is complete. The guidelines state that if the blood products are shipped before FDA testing has been completed, the product must be labeled "For Emergency Use Only" and must list the tests that have not yet been completed. The blood must indicate if screenings for HIV-1, HIV-2 and hepatitis C are not complete. The tests for the viruses should be completed "as soon as possible" and "appropriate actions taken in the event of a reactive screening test," the statement concludes (FDA statement, 9/11).
The American Red Cross has announced that due to increased blood drives resulting from Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., it will delay new blood donation rules aimed at curbing the spread of madcow disease through tainted blood, the Hartford Courant reports. The rules, which were slated to take effect Monday, would have banned donations from anyone who has spent more than three months in the United Kingdom and six months anywhere else in Europe since 1980. However, the large increase in blood donations prompted by the recent attacks "have made it impossible to bring blood workers up to date" on the new rules before Monday, according to Lynn Townshend, communications manager for the American Red Cross Connecticut Blood Region. Townshend said the new rules will likely be implemented in early- to mid-October (Hartford Courant, 9/14).
America's Blood Centers said that their blood supply is "adequate for now" after "swell[ing]" in response to Tuesday's terrorist attacks. America's Blood Centers is asking donors to wait two to eight weeks before donating so that there is enough blood for future transfusions. The American Red Cross' blood supply has "jumped" from a three-day stock to a four-day supply after large numbers of people turned out to donate (Wall Street Journal, 9/14). However, the Red Cross said that the White House has asked for the "massive blood collection effort" to continue. Unused blood will be used to create a "strategic reserve" that would be tapped in response to disasters and to replenish local blood centers that send their supplies elsewhere after catastrophes (McKenna, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/14). Red Cross President Bernadine Healy said that continuing to freeze blood will help build this reserve (Wall Street Journal, 9/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.