Medicine: Policing the Plasma Plants

Plasma, a clear, yellowish fluid that constitutes about 60% of human blood, is an important medical commodity. Hospitals use it for direct, life-saving transfusions to victims of burns and injuries, while pharmaceutical companies have been purchasing increasing quantities for use in the production of vaccines and serums. This growing demand has created a thriving business for hundreds of unlicensed private laboratories, which buy plasma for $5 and up per pint, sell it for at least a 100% profit. But it has also led to a serious public-health problem, and last week the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council proposed strict new...

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