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Blood and Money

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July 27, 2022

One year ago the United States blocked Mexicans visiting the U.S. on short-term visas from entering the country to sell their blood. Now two global pharmaceutical companies that operate plasma clinics along the border say they have seen a sharp drop in supply. In a suit they’ve filed challenging the ban, they reveal the extent to which the world’s supply of blood plasma relies on such sales. About ten percent of the plasma collected in the U.S. — millions of liters a year — comes from Mexicans who cross the border with visas for business and tourism. The suit, filed by Grifols, a Spanish company and CSL of Australia, was dismissed by a federal judge, but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In filings, the plaintiffs’ lawyers say that the ban is “precipitating a worldwide public-health crisis that is costing patients dearly.” In 2019 ProPublica, ARD German TV and Searchlight New Mexico reported that thousands of Mexicans were crossing the border to sell blood, sometimes twice a week, and earning up to $400 per month. Selling blood is illegal in Mexico.

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