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What is the best way to explain to my mom why alternative medicine and holistic doctors are nonsense? My mom has anemia and doesn't want to take any iron supplements. Will iron-rich foods be enough for her?

Print out the Hippocratic Oath. Tell her every doctor has made the pledge to practice by those principles. Alternative medicine "gurus" make no such pledge. Show her stories about groups like Doctors Without Borders and ask her how many holistic doctors would go to Africa to treat Ebola. Tell her that no student will get accepted into the medical school I work for without a significant amount of community service work on their record.Explain to her that you can count with your fingers the number of doctors that make anywhere as much much money as Dr. Oz. So she has it backwards, if they were motivated by greed they'd be selling sugar pills and false hopes to gullible people just like he is. Of course, say it in a nicer way so she won't get on the offensive and reject your argument because she feels insulted.Explain to her that the thing doctors prescribe the most is a sensible diet and exercise. They want her to eat fruit and vegetables, avoid processed foods, etc. There is no "anti-healthy living conspiracy". What they don't do is pretend that there are "magical" foods out there.Doctors have to jump thru a great number of hoops to get credentialed. And they have to actively maintain those credentials through their entire careers. This means that they have to make themselves open to scrutiny by the entire medical community, the government, and the general public. Alternative practitioners do not. When doctors mess up, they can be sued and loose their careers and go bankrupt. Except for an extremely small number of bad seeds (and what industry has none of those?) the most a doctor can get from the pharma reps a few trinkets and maybe a couple of free lunches, and even that can get them in trouble. It is irrational to think that they would knowingly do something that was not in the best interest of the patient just to satisfy "big Pharma". What little they could gain pales in comparison with what they stand to loose. So even if she still wants to believe that they only act out of self interest, point out how their self interest is to make patients better and not get sued.Explain to her that no doctor can force her to take something she doesn't want to take and no doctor will keep her from seeking a second opinion. No treatment in medicine can happen without informed consent. Doctors are required to warn patients about any potential harmful effects. Then they test the patient to find out what they can and what they cannot tolerate. They don't just guess. Alternative practitioners often peddle one size fits all cure alls and will not bother to disclose to you just how many people go into kidney failure because of the toxicity of a "natural cure".Tell her that there are very stringent quality processes in place to ensure that medications are manufactured in a precise consistent manner that ensure all doses are what they are supposed to be. The type of magic pills Dr. Oz peddles are often found to barely contain traces of the ingredient on the label and many times none at all. Then tell her just how much money Dr. Oz makes for peddling them.I've worked in the academic offices of two clinicians. The biggest faux pas a staffer could do was to put a rep's call thru. They are avoided like the plague. Fliers and brochures don't even make it to the doctor, they're automatically "recycled" by whoever handles the mail. Doctors become aware of medications via reading peer reviewed scientific journals or scheduled presentations, not advertising. Doctors like to get samples for their office because they know new prescriptions are expensive and they like being able to give them to the patients. Especially if they know the particular patient can't afford them. As soon as the generic comes out, they switch to it. Of course I can only speak of the doctors I know. I'm sure a careless doctor here and there can be found who doesn't think as much about the cost to the patient, but most of them do.While pharma does fund research, a lot of that is on therapies that are expected to work and therefore have shown a potential for profit. The basic research that goes into understanding disease and what promotes health and identifying biological mechanisms that show potential avenues of treatment is funded by the government and foundations (and even by insurance companies in the hopes of keeping their costs down). Results of research are not acceptable if they cannot be duplicated. Medicine does not avoid or actively vilify natural remedies. It studies them. When research shows that a natural substance is beneficial, it is accepted and promoted by the medical community. Alternative practitioners just avoid research all together."Alternative medicine" does not allow itself to be tested and verified because it cannot withstand the scrutiny. There is no there, there. Medical science believes in empirical data. Alternative medicine relies on anecdotal evidence and the placebo effect.Explain to her that if natural foods where the answer, then life expectancy would have been substantially higher before the advent of modern medicine (when that's all we had) and substantially lower in modern times. If we no longer die of trivial diseases is thank to doctors, not homeopaths. If there are more people with diabetes and high blood pressure and even cancer around it's not because modern medicine created them (modern lifestyles might have) but because modern medicine has helped these patients to manage and live with their conditions instead of dying from them.I'm finishing this on my phone so it's hard to tell how many typos and cut/paste errors I made. Apologies if there are many. I may come by later and clean it up.

What exactly does the CCRAS do?

Being an apex organization for the formulation, co-ordination, development and promotion of research on scientific lines in Ayurveda and Sowa-rigpa systems of medicine, CCRAS is committed to promote research in important disease areas of national priority. Therefore, the Research Policy of CCRAS is aimed at encouraging its scientists for the formulation, submission and execution of research projects aimed at generating quality data for scientific validation of safety and efficacy of formulations/ therapies and other interventions including basic principles.Clinical research and Drug development: The council is working toward validation of classical and folklore medicines and development of new formulations for disease/clinical conditions of National importance. Pharmacological studies of about 400 Ayurvedic drugs/ formulations have been conducted. The Council has generated scientific evidence on safety and efficacy of approximate 82 classical Ayurvedic formulations on 24 diseases/conditions viz. Allergic Conjunctivitis, Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Cognitive Deficit, Dry Eye Syndrome, Dyslipidemia, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Essential Hypertension, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Iron Deficiency Anemia, Menopausal Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, Obesity, Osteoporosis/Osteopenia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rasayana for healthy ageing, Dysmenorrhea, Psoriasis, Gout, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Hemorrhoids, Mental Retardation, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Computer Vision Syndrome. 17 Ayurvedic formulations for Reproductive and Child Health Care (RCH) program have also been developed, which were used in integration under Reproductive Child health care program at Himachal Pradesh with very promising results.Validation of approximate 32 classical Ayurvedic formulations is continuing for generation of scientific evidence on safety and efficacy on 14 diseases/conditions viz. Psoriasis, Urolithiasis, Uterine Fibroids, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hemorrhoids, Osteoarthritis, Gout, Osteopenia/ Osteoporosis, Obesity, Iron Deficiency Anemia, Menopausal Syndrome, Cervical Spondylosis, Cognitive Deficit and Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis.Till date, 12 technologies have been developed and commercialized through National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) for wider public utility including drugs for diseaseDiabetes: CCRAS has successfully developed an Anti diabetic drug Ayush 82. It was developed after series of safety toxicity studies which have shown no toxic sign even at 10 times of intended therapeutic dose. The drug have shown statistically significant reduction in fasting and post prandial blood sugar level along with clinical improvement in diabetes mellitus without any adverse effect. The drug is available in the market.Malaria: Malaria is still one of the major National Health problems. CCRAS has developed an Anti malarial drug Ayush-64 through extensive pharmacological, toxicological and clinical studies. It has been patented by council through National Research and Development Corporation, New Delhi (Patent No. 152863). The study was done in collaboration with National Malaria Eradication program (Govt. of Haryana and Tamil Nadu) with 72-90% clinical improvement. The response of treatment in double blind controlled study with chloroquine and primaquine as active control, Ayush-64 have shown 89% to 95% of improvement without any side effect. The drug is available in the market.Rheumatoid Arthritis: CCRAS developed has developed a safe herbal Ayurveda drug Ayush SG (Shunthi Guggulu), for the management of Rheumatoid arthritis (Amavata) through series of clinical studies. Studies have shown its effectiveness in alleviation symptoms of R.A. viz. reduction in pain, morning stiffness, swelling in joints and also reduction in ESR. The drug is available in the market.Apart from these Bal Rasayan - Preparation for general resistance in children, AYUSH Ghutti - Preparation for Cough, Cold, Fever & Diarrhea of children, AYUSH-56 - Anti-Epileptic preparation, AYUSH –SS granules - preparation to enhance the quality and quantity of breast milk in mother having deficient lactation, AYUSH AG Tablet - Preparation for Ante Natal Care (Anemia), AYUSH PK Avleha - Preparation for Post Natal Care (to enhance the process of recovery after delivery and other complications of puerperal period), AYUSH PG Tablet - Preparation for Ante Natal Care (Oedema), AYUSH B R Leham - Preparation for Pediatric Care are also developed.Drug development studies in progress: CCRAS has undertaken the development of the various coded formulations for different disease conditionsMental retardation/cognitive deficit: CCRAS has completed a multi centric clinical study for validation of a coded drug named AYUSH Manas drug for Mental retardation/cognitive deficit.Cancer: CCRAS has undertaken work for developing a coded drug named AYUSH QOL 2C for improving Quality of Life of Cancer patients in stage III & IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer and patients of Local Non-Metastatic Breast Cancer to prevent side effects of Chemotherapy. Clinical study for this has been completed successfully.Geriatric health: Collaborative Multi-centric Clinical trial to study the effect of Ayush Rasayana (A&B) on Ageing on apparently healthy elderly subjects is going on at AIIMS New Delhi, IMS BHU and CARIDD Kolkata.Wound healing: Controlled clinical Trial to assess the effectiveness of topical application of C1 herbal oil on superficial external wound and split thickness skin graft donor’s site for surgical wound healing at AIMMS New Delhi.Dengue: CCRAS is working on a collaborative research work for the assessment of safety and efficacy of a coded drug AYUSH PJ-7 for the management of DengueApart from these collaborative studies are going on for the development of coded drug for several disease of National importance including: AYUSH M-3 for Migraine, AYUSH SL for Filariasis, AYUSH A for Bronchial Asthma, AYUSH D for Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Carctol S for Cancer, AYUSH K1 for Chronic Kidney Diseases which are at different phases of drug development. These studies are being conducted in collaboration with reputed institutes like AIIMS New Delhi, NIMHANS Bengaluru, BHU, ICMR, St. John’s Medical College Bengaluru etc.CCRAS initiatives and achievement toward integration of AYUSH with modern system of medicine: Integration of all system of medicine with true medical pluralism can be the way forward to achieve the ultimate goal of health for all in preventive and curative aspect without putting burden on national budget as mentioned in National Health Policy 2017. CCRAS has undertaken following work toward integration of AYUSH system of medicine:Integration of Ayurveda in RCH program: CCRAS carried out the study in a pilot mode for introducing Ayurveda health care system in the conventional system for Antenatal, postnatal and neonatal care with technical support from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Government of India. It was implemented in some selected areas of Himachal Pradesh. Significant improvement in various outcome indicators such as improvement in Hb%, minimal complications such as vomiting, Edema etc. during pregnancy, achievement of full term pregnancy and zero still birth and neonatal death were observed in the study. No adverse drug reaction (ADR) or adverse event (AE) was reported during the study period.Osteoarthritis (Knee): The Council-WHO India country office conducted an operational study to explore the feasibility of integrating Ayurveda with modern system of medicine in a tertiary care hospital (Safdarjung Hospital New Delhi) for the management of Osteoarthritis (Knee) in 2007. The Ayurvedic treatment provided to 201 patients was found effective in the management of Osteoarthritis Knee with respect to reducing the symptoms, improving the quality of life and reducing the intake of rescue medication (analgesics). The project established a cross referral system and revealed a shift in service seeking behaviour of the patients.Integration of AYUSH (Ayurveda) with National Program for prevention and control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardio-vascular disease and Stroke (NPCDCS) Program: CCRAS, Ministry of AYUSH in collaboration with Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has implemented and executed a program viz. Integration of AYUSH (Ayurveda) component with NPCDCS program in the identified districts of 3 states, Bhilwara (Rajasthan), Surendranagar (Gujarat) and Gaya (Bihar) to cater health care services and reduce the burden of NCDs by combining the strength of Ayurveda and Yoga.The aforesaid program is now successfully functional in 52 centers (49 CHCs and 3 District Hospitals) of the all 3 identified districts, through AYUSH- NPCDCS Clinic/Lifestyle modification Clinics, established for prevention and management of selected NCDs by Ayurvedic intervention, Lifestyle modifications and Yoga Advice. An interim analysis has revealed that the dosage or components of conventional medicines/ prescription were either reduced or discontinued, in consultation and supervision of Modern doctors, after integrating the intervention of Ayurveda, lifestyle modification & Yoga in patients of Diabetes, Hypertension and Dyslipidemia. Till December 2017, 241886 patients have been screened and, out of which 54991 patients have been enrolled for selected NCDs under this program. Total beneficiaries of Yoga classes are 84,418.Literary and Fundamental research: Council is also dedicated in revival and retrieval of texts from ancient manuscripts/ rare books, collection, and compilation of references relating to drugs and diseases from classical treatises, lexicographic work, contemporary literature and publications related to Ayurveda and other medical systems have been continued further under the Literary Research Program. So far about 235 books, monographs, technical reports etc. have been published besides IEC material like brochures, booklets etc. for the dissemination of Ayurveda among masses.Research Journal: The Council has been publishing periodicals "Journal of Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (JRAS)" available at, "Journal of Drug Research in Ayurveda Sciences (JDRAS)" available at and "Journal of Indian Medical Heritage (JIMH)" available at AYUSH Morbidity and Standardized Terminology Portal (NAMSTP): In order to enhance the global footing of Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems of medicine, the Ministry of AYUSH has been actively pursuing efforts to include AYUSH systems of medicine in the Traditional Medicine chapter of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). In this regard, CCRAS has been involved in the development of Standardized Terminologies and Morbidity codes for various disease conditions mentioned in Ayurveda for uniform usage of terminologies and also to create a system for centralized morbidity data collection. The National AYUSH Morbidity and Standardized Terminology Portal (NAMSTP) is a web-based portal exclusively dedicated to the centralized collection of morbidity statistics of various health care provider institutions under all AYUSH systems spread over the country. This portal was formally launched by Shri Narendra Modi, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, on the occasion of 2nd Ayurveda Day (October 17, 2017). This portal has the potential to revolutionize morbidity statistics data collection and may have a huge impact on the future policy-making decision by bringing to light the contributions of various AYUSH systems in the health care delivery system of the country.Standardized Ayurveda Terminologies: In the era when Ayurveda is gaining popularity throughout the world, there is need to develop effective communication about Ayurveda within the stakeholders and supporting groups to ensure rationality and scientific rigor. Ayurveda has its own specialized terminology mostly in Sanskrit and few vernacular languages of India. However, when it comes to the utilization of the same into applied medical documentation e.g., for the purpose of academic/ research communication, health records, coding etc., there is variation in terminology in terms of ambiguities in translation such as use of different English words for the same Sanskrit term etc. creating confusion and very often misuse/ disuse of certain terms leading to inconsistency. The trend of correlation of one disease name in Ayurveda to a condition in bio-medical terminology has also given rise to lots of confusion due to various authors correlating different diseases mentioned in the classical textbooks of Ayurveda to various different conditions of bio-medicine. To overcome these difficulties, CCRAS has taken up the task of Standardization of Ayurvedic Terminologies in consultation with all the stakeholders and also taking leads from previous attempts in this regard. The document would be published in ten parts in the name ‘Standardized Ayurveda Terminologies’ and also be uploaded on National AYUSH Morbidities and Standardized Terminologies Portal (NAMSTP) for wider utility. One salient feature of the document is that the terms are arranged in tree form with a major term followed by related sub-terms so that all terms of similar context being grouped together for contextual understanding. Both short and long definitions for each term have been given. Another feature is the emphasis given to the grammatical correctness of the terms in terms of Sanskrit grammar. The National Ayurveda Morbidity Codes (NAMC) is an important part of this document which is also being used for morbidity data collection under NAMSTP.AYUSH Research Portal ( The Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India intends to disseminate the merits of AYUSH systems across the globe. A web-based AYUSH Research Portal has been initiated to showcase the related information of these systems viz. evidence-based Research data, CCRAS headquarter and the National Institute of Indian Medical Heritage (NIIMH) Hyderabad is coordinating and maintaining the web portal in collaboration with National Informatics Centre, Hyderabad.About 24433 research abstracts have been uploaded in the AYUSH Research Portal by the contributing AYUSH Research Councils, National Institutes, Universities, etc. Around 416931 visits to this AYUSH Research Portal, 255514 Article views, 51350 Article downloads; and visits from 157 Countries (of which, 125 countries are with 100% site usage) across the globe have been recorded so far.Development of standardized Prakriti assessment tool: Ayurveda advocates individualized treatment; hence the CCRAS has taken up the work to standardize Prakriti (a major parameter to assess health and disease in individualized form). The designing of the Prakriti Assessment Scale has been done following Ayurvedic classics and consulting various subject experts in the following steps viz. Development of comprehensive Questionnaire for assessment of Prakriti, Development of User Manual containing SOPs for capturing predictors, and Double Blind Validation of the Questionnaire to see Inter Rater Agreement. A comprehensive Prakriti Assessment Scale based on Ayurvedic texts has been developed and presently it is under clinical validation. (available at Plant Research: CCRAS is carrying out various Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey, Cultivation, Pharmacognosy and Drug standardization Research. Under Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey, parts of major Forest divisions have been surveyed. Council is preserving more than 120,000 plant species in the form of herbarium and approx. 5,000 crude drug samples were collected for museums at CCRAS peripheral institutes at Ranikhet, Gwalior, Jhansi and Mandi. Around 2,500 folk claims were collected and 14 books were published out of Medico Ethno Botanical Survey. The Pharmacognostical studies on 400 single drugs, Phytochemical studies of 220 drugs, physicochemical constants of 889 single drugs (samples) and 623 formulations (samples) have been carried out.Public oriented outreach Activities:Tribal Health Care Research Program: This program has been implemented under Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) and services have been extended to 14 states through 15 CCRAS Institutes to provide health care facilities at door step of tribal people. In this program, CCRAS has covered a population of 367,074 and 704 folk claims/LHTs have been documented.Swasthya Rakshan Program: This program has been initiated during the month of November, 2015. A total 193 villages/colonies covered through 4011 tours in 19 states and medical aid provided to 120498 patients. During these tours, awareness about hygiene was also provided to the peopleAyurveda Mobile Health Care Program under Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP): This program has been initiated during the month of November, 2015. A total 268 villages/colonies covered through 3385 tours in 18 states and medical aid provided to 122648 patients. During these tours, awareness about hygiene was also provided to the peopleAyurvedic Health Centres under NE Plan: CCRAS has sanctioned 20 OPDs in 20 districts of North-East states during 2015-16, viz. 10 OPD in Assam state, 6 OPD in Arunachal Pradesh state and 4 OPD in Sikkim state. In Arunachal Pradesh, 6 Ayurvedic Health Centres viz. District Hospital, Bomdila; District Hospital, Namsai; District Hospital, Tezu; District Hospital, Seppa; CHC, Likabali and CHC, Ruksin/General Hospital Pasighat are continuing under the supervision of RARI, Itanagar and a total 6860 patients were attended in these Centres. In Sikkim - 4 Ayurvedic Health Centres viz. Gayzing, Jorethang, Mangan, and Singtham are functioning under the supervision of RARI, Gangtok and a total 4106 patients were attended in these Centres. In Assam, 9 Ayurvedic Health Centres viz. Kamrup, Nalbari, Morigaon, Darrang, Barpeta, Tezpur, Golaghat, Goalpara and Nagaon are functioning under the supervision of RARIGID, Guwahati and a total 4778 patients were attended in these Centres.For more read, CCRAS Vision Document 2030 at and

How much do you get to donate plasma?

Q. How much is the plasma you donate worth?A. $20 to $50 per donation. Payment is for time/inconvenience, pain. Unit of plasma costs hospitals $300+. Uses: hemophiliacs, albumin for burns, immunoglobulins for immune and neurologic disorders. US supplies 70% of the world (OPEC for plasma). It is a lucrative business for an industry with a long history of negligence and a complicit FDA.How to Make Money Donating Plasma ( Twisted Business of Donating Plasma ( Much Is Your Body Worth on the Black Market? - Finance Degree CenterHow to Make Money Donating Plasma ( 19, 2018 Jim WangCan you make money donating plasma? Yes.Unlike red blood, where you can't make money donating blood, you can often get paid lots of money to donate plasma.Donating plasma is a more involved procedure. It takes more time, is less pleasant than donating red blood, so they make up for it by paying you money.Blood plasma is the clear liquid part of the blood. It contains water, some enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. They use it to create products that can help folks with blood clotting disorders and other diseases.You get paid because it can take about an hour and a half.To get just the clear liquid part:Your blood is drawn,the plasma is separated,and the blood is returned to your body.Here's the big kicker — you're not donating to the Red Cross anymore. You're donating to a business. They will sell your plasma to companies that turn them into products. It's only fair they compensate you for the time and your plasma, right?Do your research before deciding to donate plasma. I'm not a medical professional, I'm not advocating you donate anything and am merely explaining how it works. I've never personally donated plasma and am unlikely to ever do so.As an aside, I've been asked whether I think donating plasma is ethical. Yes, it's perfectly ethical. It's your blood, your time, and you should do whatever you want with it. I've heard stories of people earning a nice supplemental income donating plasma and paying off their debts with it. I have no problem with it at all.Who Is Eligible to Donate?Generally speaking, you need to be 18-69 years old and over 110 pounds.Local and state laws may override center requirements. For example, in Nebraska, you must be 19 years or older or produce written consent.How Much Do You Get Paid?The compensation varies based on you and how often you donate.A lot of plasma donation centers run promotions where you get paid more if you donate more often. For example, ADMA BioCenters in Atlanta has a coupon for an extra $5 on your first donation and pay more if you have a special antibody (Anti-D).It feels a little weird, seeing coupons and promotions on a blood plasma donation site, but that's how this world works.You're not in the charitable arena of the Red Cross anymore, these are businesses and so are you.You can expect to be paid anywhere from $20 to $50 per donation.The range in compensation is related to the volume of plasma you're able to donate. The FDA sets the guidelines and the ranges are 110-149 pounds, 150-174 pounds, and 175-400 pounds. The more poundage, the more plasma, and the more cash you're paid.Most places will pay you via a debit card to make the payment process smoother.If you want to earn money but don't want to donate your blood plasma to get it, take a look at these 276+ confirmed websites that will pay you money to do work. We update the list regularly.How often can you donate? This will vary from place to place, the American Red Cross only lets you donate once every 28 days. Private centers will let you donate up to twice in 7 days with at least one day in between. That's how they come up with figures like “make $300 a month” from donating plasma.How to Find a Plasma Donation CenterThe FDA inspects plasma donation centers for compliance with laws but doesn't itself manage them. They're run by companies so there's no central clearinghouse, you need to just search for a local one, confirm it's in compliance, and then see which one makes it worth your – 450 centersOctapharma Plasma – 45 centersGrifolsCSL PlasmaLook for First Time Donor CouponsBlood plasma is a competitive business so you may be able to find a first time donor coupon to increase your payout (at least the first few times).For example, here's a coupon from BioLife Plasma Services, valid only at their Ammon, ID location:Found at this page – but Google for one at your local centerYou may be able to get higher than typical payouts, but not always. Do your homework!What Should You Bring?Proof of address, a valid photo ID and proof of your Social Security Number. Your name must exactly match on those documents. Proof of address can be what's on your photo ID.In preparing, make sure you eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids.You Can Donate Plasma for FreeDoes the idea of selling plasma for money irk you? Do stories of people selling plasma for money leave a bad taste in your mouth? No problem – you can donate it for free if you want.The American Red Cross collects plasma too and will let you donate every 28 days. Just call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.The Twisted Business of Donating Plasma ( LORENZO WELLINGTON MAY 28, 2014Since 2008, plasma pharmaceuticals have leapt from $4 billion to a more than $11 billion annual market. Donors desperate for the cash incentive from high-frequency "plassing" may be putting their health, and the public's, at risk.I needed the cash.That was how I found myself laying in a plasma “donation” room filled with about 40 couches, each equipped with a blood pressure cuff and a centrifuge. A white-coated attendant (workers aren’t required to have medical or nursing degrees) pricked my arm. He separated my plasma from my whole blood into a large bottle, and returned my protein-depleted blood, which flowed back into my arm to rebuild my nutrient supply.“My house is so noisy with four kids so I come here for my relaxation,” said a middle-aged, haggard-looking woman on the next couch, the plasmapheresis machine at her side whirring. A clinician instructed us both to pump and relax our fists, like cows milking our own udders.Before leaving I received a calendar that mapped out my pay, if I maintained a twice-weekly schedule for subsequent donations. Even a $10 bonus on my next visit!How did I get here? My rent was due. I had insufficient funds in the bank. I was 48-years-old, a journalist running short on cash from writing assignments and odd jobs. That was when I saw an ad offering $50 per plasma donation: blood money, or more specifically, payment for my time and any small pain involved in the process of having protein-rich plasma extracted from the blood. Regulars call it “plassing.”Hospitals, Red Cross units, and nonprofit agencies reject the plasma center model because cash incentives may give donors an incentive to lie.The ad I’d seen featuring smiling attendants suggested an experience similar to one at a sedate hospital. The facility I entered buzzed like a school lunchroom. There were first-timers waiting to complete the initial medical exam, and regulars hurrying to check in at automatic computer terminals. Easily 50 to 60 “plassers” were present at any given moment, the crowd continually ebbing and flowing. All were like me—hopeful, needy, and impatient to get paid.I received an oral examination. I was not surprised by the many questions about my sexual behavior, but I was taken aback by repeated questions regarding tattoos. Three times I was asked if I had lied and “really” had tattoos. After the clinicians tested a blood sample for protein levels, I underwent a bare-bones medical checkup. But I questioned its efficiency given that my examiner ran through scores of questions so fast I had to ask him to repeat himself. I spotted a sign: NO PAYMENT UNLESS DONATION IS COMPLETED."Plassers" receive payments on a special debit card that extracts a surcharge whenever they use it. Curiously, while my examiner hurried me through the screening, he did patiently lay out the payment scheme. Did he know how desperate I was? His “Don’t worry. You’ll pass” attitude may have expressed condescension, unprofessionalism, or benevolence.My extraction went smoothly. I left with a ray of hope that I could “plass” next month’s rent money. The literature provided at U.S. centers ubiquitously states that "donating plasma is safe." Its side effects are limited to "mild faintness and bruising." (My brochure also added, "Other possible side effects will be explained by our medical staff," though I can’t say any such explanation stayed with me.) But the following day my body received an impromptu schooling in the price tag of the world I had entered.It happened at about five o’clock the next day. Unexpectedly, with no apparent cause or logical relationship to physical exertion, I felt my legs go rubbery. I was Silly Putty. This was something more than “mild faintness” and particularly disturbing because of the aspect of a random attack. I suddenly felt so weirdly fatigued that I couldn’t stand on my feet. I barely reached the couch before I passed out for five hours straight. Luckily, I was safely ensconced at home. But since I substitute teach as well as freelance write I woke up wondering: What would I do if that happened at my day job?What had happened? I had received my welcoming to the subtle physical changes, possibly exacerbated by work and poverty, which may be the upshot of plassing. And my research began.* * *Biotest, CSL Plasma, Yale Plasma. These are some of the funny corporate names that dot my state, New Mexico, and maybe yours. Or OctaPharma. Or Biolife.Plasma reaped from paid U.S. donors makes up about 70 percent of worldwide collections. The United States is conversationally known in the industry as “the OPEC of plasma collections.”But why plasma?Proteins in the plasma collected at places like Biotest are necessary for the manufacture of a wide range of pharmaceuticals produced by for-profit corporations. The industry burgeoned in the 1950s thanks to a boom in new drugs for hemophiliacs. Plasma centers have historically worn the scarlet letter in the blood-collection universe.The number of centers in the United States ballooned during the Great Recession, with 100 new centers opening and total donations leaping from 12.5 million in 2006 to more than 23 million in 2011.Hospitals, Red Cross units, and nonprofit agencies relying on voluntary donations reject the plasma center model because cash incentives for whole blood may give donors an incentive to lie, heightening risks of a tainted supply. Such risks are higher overall for whole blood, too.Prior to the AIDS crisis, plasma collection practices were often under the table, but the medical community still operated under a general assumption that those standards for plasma were good enough. The assumption proved disastrously wrong. Industry practices eventually cost the hemophiliac community dearly.Throughout the '60s and '70s, plasma companies minimized their own overhead costs by relying on chancy prison populations paid a pittance: $5 to $10 dollars per “plassing” donation. Roughly 50 percent of American hemophiliacs contracted HIV from bad plasma-based pharmaceuticals (a much higher infection rate than that suffered by gay men at the time), making worldwide plasma medication HIV outbreaks the industry’s most publicized scandal.People with hemophilia filed class-action suits. These included substantial evidence that a major plasma company continued to distribute “old supplies” of bad medications after becoming aware of the AIDS infection. The public was dismayed to discover that the industry operated under the protection of federal and state blood shield laws, limiting its liability.By the 1990s, the industry’s public reputation reached a low point, with American collections dwindling, U.S. federal regulators clamping down, and revelations coming to light that spoke poorly of industry oversight and humanitarianism. Even before the AIDS crisis devastated U.S. plasma collections, other controversies, such as incidents of hepatitis C infection in plasma pharmaceuticals, led corporations to keep overhead low and avoid regulation by transporting the payment-incentives collections system to penniless countries abroad.In the 1990s, China attempted to develop a plasma market to compete with Western companies by touting money for plasmapheresis in China’s most impoverished province, Henan. Villagers that were too poor to afford condoms soon realized they could earn more money by selling plasma than by farming the land, but the facilities offered substandard sterilization techniques, needles, and blood bags. By 1995, Henan Province had become a blood farm built on a criminalized plasma economy. Thousands of Chinese donors became infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C.Today, many plasma products for hemophiliacs have been outdated by medical advances, but the industry thrives producing albumin for burns and intravenous immunoglobin, used to treat immune disorders and neurological conditions. The industry has returned to the United States in a big way with the help of brighter, user-friendly advertisements that include appeals to public service and reminders of the economy’s downfall to encourage donors. The number of centers in the United States ballooned during the Great Recession, with 100 new centers opening and total donations leaping from 12.5 million in 2006 to more than 23 million in 2011.Monopolization has transformed the industry, which now consists of five international corporations operating in the United States under Food and Drug Administration regulation: Baxter International of Deerfield, Illinois; CSL of Australia; Talecris of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Grifols of Spain; and Octapharma of Switzerland. A possible sixth big player is Biotest AG, the for-profit arm of a Dutch nonprofit corporation, Sanquin. Since 2008, plasma pharmaceuticals have leapt from an approximate $4 billion to a more than $11 billion annual market.* * *Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I live, has a crowded but reasonably clean Biotech Plasma center. But the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, population 552,804, has three plasma centers that would have challenged my willingness to “plass” no matter how needy I was. Yale Plasma, located on a strip where panhandlers convene, resembles a pawn shop. The exterior window sports a motto for in-house lotto games; the interior is remarkably cramped. Another Albuquerque center, CSL Plasma, is larger, but has no chairs. Donors crouch on the floor, or stand in long lines until they plass. Asking a young man if he minded squatting, I’m told CSL removed the complementary seating to “keep the bums out of here.”The Blood HarvestPlasma is “pooled” or collected in containers to prepare it for a process called “fractionation,” which will render it usable. The bigger the plasma pools, the cheaper they will be to process—which Dr. Lucy Reynolds, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, cites as an example of the industry cutting corners.Large pools maximize profits. Furthermore, although large pools are subject to advanced safety analyses (21st-century viral testing has made Hepatitis C and AIDS contamination rare) health officials have raised the concern that as market plasma spreads globally, the harm that could result if another AIDS-like pathogen infiltrated the system would be exponentially greater."Certain governments are people and people’s-rights centered," says Reynolds, who recently published a paper castigating the plasma trade. "In those places they make the plasma corporations play by the rules; sometimes they just choose to have as little as possible to do with them. But the United States is a corporate country"—that maintains the Western world's least restrictive plasma regulations.U.S. centers also have a policy assured to reel in those with an ongoing, immediate need for small sums of cash: $50 for the first five donations, then $60 a week if you willingly go under the needle twice a week.“I call it a grubby business because they knowingly endanger the health of donors in the U.S. by harvesting them twice a week, while in every other place in the world you’re only allowed to donate fortnightly, ” Reynolds says.I interviewed plassers in Albuquerque but, given that my questions included asking if they lied to pass medical examinations, the people I spoke with often asked me not to use their last names."Going into the center makes me feel like a lab rat," says Ron, a 33-year-old single father and unemployed schoolteacher, who began regularly plassing six years ago to make ends meet for his new son. He was disqualified at a local center because he had many visible tattoos, but accepted at another center “that was less picky.” Ron reports no particular bad side effects but still worries. "They tell me there are no long-term effects but the answers they give at these places are so robotic."A haggard man with bloodshot eyes standing outside the CSL center identified himself as “Bubba,” and said he was homeless and an alcoholic. He had suffered a serious head injury in youth and had been plassing for nearly 15 years with no ill effects other than "sometimes my arm hurts really bad." He also continually falls asleep on the couches. In fact, Bubba once collapsed in the standing lines at CSL, but he appreciated the extra cash. He says he was unhappy when he had been drinking too much to pass the protein level test, but claimed he later discovered, “If I swallow ketchup before going in I can pass any test they throw at me.”Bubba was cognizant that donors who were homeless, alcoholic, or had suffered head injuries like his own were, in theory, barred. "Everybody lies," he said. "Nobody is honest on all those questions."I left the conversation wondering whether Bubba was an example of why other nations don’t want to expose their citizens to the commercial plasma trade, and many make (increasingly unsuccessful) efforts to limit imports of commercial plasma from the United States. Should a homeless alcoholic be banned from plassing for his safety and ours?Gabriella, a 51-year-old mother of three, began plassing eight years ago after she was laid off in a cut-back of state government employees. She admits to having lied to pass the screening after realizing that she had become too thin to pass the weight test, and "put on extra clothes, just to squeak past the weight minimum" of 110 pounds. Gabriella knows other regular plassers, often homeless, who use ankle weights.Kevin Taylor, a 27-year-old student at the University of New Mexico, plassed to meet expenses, but found that over two years of plassing he lost 15 pounds.“I definitely wasn’t eating regular meals, and I think the pressure of keeping up my two donations a week was making me sick,” he says.Kevin Crosby, 48, began plassing 10 years ago to provide for his six-year-old daughter.Many people I interviewed left me questioning whether, when poverty is the primary motivation, the advisability of twice-weekly plassing should be reconsidered.“Every time I’ve had this weird hollowed out feeling. And a lot of times the next day I will have serious fatigue," he says. "Then, about five years ago when I was working night shift at a security job, I had that weird fatigue. I don’t know what hit me but I woke up on the floor. They accused me of falling asleep; I know I blacked out.”Crosby has had several blackouts, including one that hit when he was driving."I had to pull over," he says. "I had to sit there several minutes in a daze. It really freaked me."The fact that other Western nations adopt a “better safe than sorry” attitude (when they sanction commercial collection centers at all) by insisting on two-week intervals between donations should raise eyebrows about U.S. practices. Many people I interviewed left me questioning whether, when poverty is the primary motivation, the advisability of twice-weekly plassing should be reconsidered. Not to mention the other likely health complications donators may suffer from, including stress, poor nutrition, and inadequately or untreated medical conditions.All told, I interviewed almost three-dozen regulars at CSL and Yale Plasma. More than half of them confessed to frequent, bizarre tingling sensations, pains, rubbery legs, and severe dehydration, as well as to having been homeless, having lied to pass medical exams, and having used "tricks" that allowed them to pass protein-level tests. They lived in circumstances that made plassing a hardship, but said, "I can't eat if I don't plass."I described the experiences above to medical historian Harriet A. Washington, author of Deadly Monopolies and Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans. Washington said, “Our blood supply is now very safe, although not perfectly so.” Hepatitis C and HIV infection are as rare as 1 in every 1 million blood recipients.Washington is not opposed to payment centers that observe safety standards and adhere to regulations. Neediness and economic hardship don't necessarily make a donor unsafe, which is a historic prejudice. The crux, Washington says, "is how we screen donors.""If these companies are winking at donors' deception, then they're putting us all in serious danger. In an ideal world, I'd want more government oversight to closely monitor these collection sites."Why do donors, including myself, suffer fatigue akin to blackouts? During plasmapheresis, centers often use a chemical, sodium citrate, to keep blood from clotting, Washington explains."Sodium citrate and other citric-acid derivatives bond with the calcium in your blood, and afterwards the calcium is no longer available to your body. We know that some people respond badly to sodium citrate. The worst case is rare: extreme hypocalcaemia, which can be fatal. But more often, people will suffer fainting, tingling and numbness, muscle contractions, or even seizures. Walking around with depleted calcium can be extremely dangerous. It can lead to serious healthcare issues."These issues include: heart arrhythmias, seizures, osteoporosis, eye strain, breathing problems, brittle bones, and chronic kidney conditions.A summary of a 2005 report by Jeffrey L. Winters published in the Journal of Clinical Apheresis states that "the most common aphaeresis-specific reaction is hypocalcemia due to citrate anticoagulation, which, while usually mild, has the potential for severely injuring the donor." In fact, Winters writes, compared to whole-blood donations, “the risk of reactions requiring hospitalization is substantially greater.” Plasma centers that don't inform donors of these risks are abrogating patients' medical rights—yet none of the people I interviewed who experienced “funny fits” or weird tingling sensations were knowledgeable of the possibility of hypocalcaemia.Several reported that they had inquired about such symptoms at centers but were given absolute guarantees of safety. And it seems preposterous to expect them to diagnose themselves when centers prominently display statements like the following one from a Baxter Inc. press kit: Donating plasma is a low risk procedure with minimal or no side effects."In Belgium, approximately 5,000 donations are mixed into donor pools. In the United States, some donor pool sizes are in excess of several hundred thousand donations."I sat in a pizza parlor with Kevin Crosby near the Yale Plasma center. He rolled up his sleeves and showed me a huge sore where 10 years' of needles have gone into his arm."I never in my life thought I would have to do this to survive," he said. "A lot of the staff aren't competent with the needles. People get jittery talking about that stuff, but a lot talk about how much money they make off us. I say, if they’re going to exploit us they could at least pay us. I say they could pay us $100 for twice a week."Crosby has also always been pestered by doubts: Why does he have black outs, and how safe is this plasma? Looking at the suspect patrons, "you can tell something is wrong with them," he says.I tell Kevin about the industry’s history of negligence: the tragedies in South America, the American prison collections, and the AIDS outbreak among hemophiliacs who received medications tainted because the industry put market share above safety controls. I explain that today the monopolized industry harvests in the U.S. because only the FDA will allow them to reap enough plasma to support an international market. Nowhere else in the West believes twice-a-week donations are advisable, and the international community isn’t as sanguine regarding detrimental health effects. Kevin’s blackouts are probably a bad reaction to an anticoagulant, sodium citrate."I have read every word of every paper I've signed at CSL and Yale," Kevin claims. "I haven't seen a mention about this."Critics today still question the wisdom of cutting costs by maintaining massive plasma pools. Safer systems operate on a not-for-profit basis, and only require sufficient amounts of plasma to meet domestic needs. A 2005 report published by writers at Ghent University in Belgium says that in Belgium, “approximately 5,000 donations are mixed into such pools. In Germany, pools containing up to 60,000 donations are considered.” In the United States, “some donor pool sizes are in excess of several hundred thousand [donations]. ”The authors recommend alternative pooling strategies because the “risk of contamination of these pools increases rapidly with the pool size.” Zealous precaution today could spare us untold misery tomorrow.“Hearing all this,” says Crosby, “I never want to walk into those places again.”This piece was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a journalism non-profit dedicated to stories about inequality.How Much Is Your Body Worth on the Black Market? - Finance Degree Center

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