Published On: Thu, Dec 25th, 2014

Senators Baldwin, Warren, Blast FDA’s Proposed Policy on Blood Donations

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took to Twitter on Tuesday to criticize the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed new policy on blood donations from gay men,  saying that while the recommendation is a “step forward” it is still “discriminatory, ” said.

The liberal legislator and potential 2016 presidential candidate tweeted that the FDA must “have courage to set policies based on science” in order to “commit to building a bigger, safer blood supply through risk-based screenings, ” the report said.

Earlier this month, Warren wrote a letter, along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), that was signed by 75 congressional colleagues and called for Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to end the “outdated MSM blood donation policy, ” the report said.

The policy,  introduced Tuesday by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, would replace a 30-year-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men with a new rule permitting donations from men who haven’t had sex with another man for at least a year, according to Politico.

The lifetime ban dates from the early years of the AIDS crisis. “This recommended change is consistent with the recommendation of an independent expert advisory panel the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, ” Hamburg stated.

It also criticized the proposed policy, stating that both the old and new policies are “discriminatory, ” “unacceptable” and that “science has shown us that our current policy is not justified, ” Politico said.

Sen. Baldwin said in a statement on Tuesday that the proposal was a step in the right direction.

“While this announcement represents needed progress, I remain concerned that it does not achieve our goal of putting in place a policy that is based on sound science and allows all healthy individuals to donate, ” Baldwin said.

“The Administration must continue to work toward implementing blood donation policies based on individual risk factors instead of singling out one group of people and turning away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages, ” the senator said.

Officials from the American Red Cross and the blood bank industry have opposed the ban, as has the American Medical Association. A September study released by the Los Angeles-based Williams Institute suggested that lifting the ban would increase the total annual blood supply by about 2%-4%. Basing their estimates on American Red Cross figures suggesting each donation has the potential to impact three lives, the researchers concluded that lifting the ban could potentially save the lives of 1.8 million people, according to the Windy City Times.


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