Pharma companies sue for right to buy blood from Mexicans along border

By Stefanie Dodt, ARD German TV

A year after the US barred Mexicans from crossing the border to sell their blood, pharmaceutical companies have acknowledged that those donations provided as much as 10% of the plasma collected nationwide as they seek to have the ban overturned. US investigative non-profit online newsroom ProPublica reports.

n the year since the United States blocked Mexicans from entering the country to sell their blood, the two global pharmaceutical companies that operate the largest number of plasma clinics along the border say they have seen a sharp drop in supply.

In a suit challenging the ban, the companies acknowledged for the first time the extent to which Mexicans visiting the U.S. on short-term visas contribute to the world’s supply of blood plasma. In court filings, the companies revealed that up to 10% of the blood plasma collected in the U.S. — millions of liters a year — came from Mexicans who crossed the border with visas that allow brief visits for business and tourism.

The legal challenge by Spain-based Grifols and CSL of Australia relates to an announcement last June that U.S. Customs and Border Protection doesn’t permit Mexican citizens to cross into the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood plasma. The suit was initially dismissed by a federal judge but reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The drug companies’ lawyers have said in court filings that the sharp reduction in Mexicans selling blood to the border clinics is contributing to a worldwide shortage of plasma and is “precipitating a worldwide public-health crisis that is costing patients dearly.”

ProPublica, ARD German TV and Searchlight New Mexico reported in 2019 that thousands of Mexicans were crossing the border to donate blood as often as twice a week, earning as much as $400 per month. Selling blood has been illegal in Mexico since 1987…