Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Irish Budget cuts mean no CJD screening of donated blood

Ireland - THE MINISTER FOR Health has been advised not to introduce a new technology to screen donated blood for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease because it would not be cost effective to do so.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is one of a group of rare, progressive fatal non-inflammatory degenerative diseases of the brain affecting humans and animals.
Also known as prion diseases, they are thought to be caused by an abnormal form of a naturally occurring protein in the brain (the prion protein) that has been acquired through infection.
Following a detailed health technology assessment (HTA) carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), Dr Patricia Harrington, head of assessment with the Authority’s Health Technology Assessment Directorate, said: “The Authority’s HTA found that to filter red cell concentrates as proposed by the blood service would initially cost €11 million per year. It was estimated that such a measure would, over a 10-year period, potentially prevent two deaths from vCJD.”
The origin of vCJD is linked to the outbreak of a bovine form of the disease, bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), which occurred in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s.
The incidence of BSE and vCJD peaked in the Britain in 1992-1993 and 2000, respectively, and has been declining since.
However, there is an ongoing risk of vCJD transmission from transfusion of blood or blood products due to donations from carriers of the disease.
Worldwide, there have been five documented cases of transfusion- related vCJD infection, resulting in three deaths from clinical vCJD.
Emphasising HIQA’s increasingly important role as health budgets dwindle, the report states: “Given the likely number of clinical cases and, in the context of a finite healthcare budget, consideration must be given to the existing technologies and services that may need to be displaced should a decision be made to introduce prion filtration, at a cost of up to €11 million per annum.”

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