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Oversight Committee Urges FDA to Revise Policy Preventing Gay and Bisexual Men from Donating Plasma for Coronavirus Research

May 7, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Committee Members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Porter, and Deb Haaland sent a letter urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow men who have sex with men (MSM) and who have recovered from coronavirus to safely donate plasma in support of treatment research efforts.

“To ensure that efforts to develop an effective coronavirus treatment can proceed unhindered, we urge FDA to immediately modify its deferral recommendations so that all gay and bisexual men who have recovered from coronavirus and can safely donate plasma to support treatment research efforts are able to do so,” the Members wrote. 

Although FDA has not approved any coronavirus treatments, there are more than a dozen ongoing clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of transfusing antibody-rich plasma from patients who have recovered to treat current patients.  To further this research, FDA has been working with the American Red Cross to encourage people who have recovered from coronavirus to donate plasma.  

Since the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, gay and bisexual men who have recovered from coronavirus and attempted to donate plasma have been turned away in accordance with FDA’s blanket deferral recommendation.

On April 1, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter urging the FDA to revise its 12-month donor deferral policy for MSM in light of the negative long-term impacts coronavirus will have on the United States blood supply.  The next day, FDA announced that it would shorten this deferral period from twelve months to three months.  

“Shortening the MSM deferral period was a good first step,” the Members wrote.  “However, FDA’s policy continues to exclude gay and bisexual men who can safely donate blood and blood products—including those who have recovered from coronavirus and can safely donate plasma to support treatment research efforts.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

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