Monday 26 October 2020

Blood company Sanquin to sell 85% of plasma operations to international investors


An ‘international consortium’ has reached a deal with Dutch blood company Sanquin to acquire 85% of its plasma products arm in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The agreement, Sanquin says, will enable it to increase and modernise its production facilities while securing the availability and production of plasma-derived medicines in the Netherlands for the future.

The investors were not named but have ‘extensive experience in the biomedical sector and the marketing of products from plasma,’ Sanquin said in a website statement.

The move is noteworthy because Sanquin is currently involved in developing a medicine to treat coronavirus based on plasma donated by thousands of Dutch volunteers.

The company was formed in 1998 when the Dutch state-run blood banks merged with the Red Cross blood transfusion service. Sanquin is technically a not-for-profit organisation but operates several BVs, including the plasma unit SPP.

The company says the sale of the plasma arms, in which it will retain a priority share, is a consequence of industry consolidation which has led to the emergence of a number of very large global players.

‘These have achieved cost savings and economies of scale that a national plasma-derived medicine manufacturer such as SPP cannot match,’ the company said in a statement. ‘SPP must therefore grow in order to achieve the same benefits. This requires a partnership.’

Small market

‘The Dutch market for plasma-derived medicines is too small to maintain a plasma-derived medicine company in a cost-efficient way,’ board chairman Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi said. By modernising and increasing the efficiency of the production facilities Sanquin can make more drugs, for less money, with proportionally less plasma, he said.

The company said the clear legal and organisational separation of SPP from the rest of Sanquin, including the blood bank, mean the agreement has otherwise no effect on the rest of the company and the collection of plasma remains entirely in the hands of Sanquin blood bank on a not-for-profit basis.

SPP will purchase the plasma and process it into plasma-derived medicines and continue to supply these medicines to Dutch patients.

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