Last month the Plasma Protein industry celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of its industry association. The celebration was held in Washington, D.C. prior to its annual meeting. It was a festive atmosphere for all of us to walk down memory lane and celebrate some great accomplishments.
It was formed in 1992 under difficult circumstances. The tragedy of AIDS infection in the hemophilia community was just behind us. The suffering and anger in the hemophilia community was still enormous. There was a climate of distrust and disregard for the industry at large. Political barriers were raised especially in Europe through EU Directives. The World Health Organization at the time looked down on private industry as suspicious.
Three giants emerged from within the industry and insisted on the formation of an association. Otto Schwarz, who was one of the founders of Immuno in Vienna, Austria, insisted on the need to develop an industry view and not just a company view. Ralph Galustian, who was the president of Bayer’s Biological Division, created the necessary funding. And Guelfo Marcucci, the founder of Kedrion, Italy, demanded a full international participation. I have had the honor of knowing all three over the years, and I admire each one hugely.
Today the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association can be proud of its accomplishments. No patient using plasma products has contracted AIDS since 1986. Safety is a reality in the industry. Access to products, quality and affordability are demanded by the industry. It’s a good place to be.