Red Cross joins Korean firm to create blood plasma hub

The Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS) has agreed to join a South Korean firm to set up a blood plasma centre.

Thai Red Cross Society secretarygeneral Phan Wannamethee, left, signs an agreement with Cho Sun-tae, president of the Green Cross Corporation, a South Korean firm, to jointly set up a blood plasma centre in Chon Buri. The agreement was signed at the Red Cross office yesterday. THANARAK KHOONTON

The centre, in Chon Buri, will save the country up to 1 billion baht a year in blood plasma imports.

TRCS secretary-general Phan Wannamethee said the Red Cross had been separating blood plasma for patients since 1979. However, only about 10,000 litres could be produced domestically a year while hospitals have to shoulder the cost of importing supplies to keep up with demand.

The TRCS has signed an agreement with South Korea's Green Cross Corporation to design and construct a blood plasma separating facility on a 10-rai plot in tambon Bang Phra in Si Racha district of Chon Buri province. The project cost is 2 billion baht and it is set for a 2015 launch.

The plant will have a production capacity of 200,000 litres a year and would be able to produce supplies to treat patients suffering from kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and haemophilia.

Mr Phan said the plant could save Thailand up to 1 billion baht in plasma imports and break even within three years.

The TRCS ultimately aims to turn the centre into the blood plasma production hub of Southeast Asia, he said.

Green Cross Corp president Cho Sun-tae has pledged to transfer the latest plasma separating technology to TRCS from South Korea to enable the production of a high quality supply which can meet Thailand's domestic demands.

South Korean ambassador Jeon Jae-man said the South Korean government has contributed US$1 million (30.5 million baht) to the TRCS for the project.

The venture is being developed under a bilateral cooperation agreement reached last year by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and outgoing South Korean president Lee Myung-bak.