Why does Australia import blood products?
Australia is committed to being self-sufficient in its supply of blood and blood products where feasible and this is one of the supporting policy aims of the National Blood Agreement which was signed in 2003 by all Australian governments as part of reforms to the blood sector.
However, it is necessary for Australia to import blood and blood related products in a range of circumstances. Importing these products helps to:
- address shortfalls in domestic supply and production
- obtain products which are not produced in Australia
- ensure contingency security and supply planning.
This enables all patients in Australia to have access to products when they need them. All this happens within the framework that:
- minimises product safety risks to patients
- ensures affordability of products to the Australian health sector
- recognises the practicalities of production and distribution.
Are imported products safe?
Blood and blood related products supplied in Australia, whether domestic or imported, all meet the same stringent safety and efficacy guidelines set out by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Importing products to meet demand
For some products, demand exceeds domestic supply in Australia. For example, Australia’s requirements for intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) are largely met through products made from Australian blood donations and manufactured in Australia by CSL Limited. In addition, the NBA also contracts for the supply of imported IVIg products because the amount of IVIg which is manufactured in Australia does not meet all requirements.
Importing products not produced in Australia
The NBA contracts for the importation of a range of plasma-derived and recombinant (genetically engineered) products, which are largely used for the treatment of haemophilia, as these products are not produced in Australia.