Global health concerns regarding the Zika virus (ZIKV), a flavivirus, have prompted the FDA to issue guidance for blood donation collection, recommending that donors at risk for the virus defer donations for four weeks. The FDA also noted in its guidance that it is unlikely for the virus to be transmitted through fractionated plasma-derived products, such as intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) or von Willebrand factor (VWF) and coagulation factor VIII (FVIII) because of existing viral inactivation and removal methods.
“Regarding measures to help prevent ZIKV transmission through blood products, ZIKV is likely cleared by the existing viral inactivation and removal methods that are currently used to clear viruses in the manufacturing processes for plasma-derived products,” the FDA stated. “These methods are highly effective in clearing lipid-enveloped viruses in plasma-derived products, but are not generally applicable for use in blood and blood components intended for transfusion. However, an S/D treated pooled plasma product has been FDA-licensed and is commercially available.”
Octaplas™ [Pooled Plasma (Human), Solvent/Detergent Treated Solution for IV Infusion] is the only FDA-licensed S/D treated pooled plasma product. Octaplas™ goes through the same viral clearance steps as do the fractionated plasma-derived products.
The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA), a trade association of more than 450 human plasma collection centers and manufacturers, has similarly concluded, “PPTA member companies have considerable experience with the capacity of their production processes to effectively eliminate flaviviruses, in case they were present in the plasma. Based on these experiences, Zika virus is not a concern for the safety of plasma protein therapies.”
From its inception, Octapharma has set a very high standard for patient safety and was the first manufacturer to apply the S/D viral inactivation process to production. The company has long applied a selective donor recruitment process to ensure product quality.
“In its guidance, the FDA noted the availability of Octaplas™, a product which further advances Octapharma’s commitment to quality and safety,” said Octapharma USA President Flemming Nielsen. “Octaplas™ undergoes multiple manufacturing steps, including plasma pooling, cell filtration and S/D treatment. The FDA classifies Octaplas™ as a biologic, requiring every product batch of Octaplas™ to be assessed for quality and consistency before release for sale.”1 – 4
The Zika virus, first identified in Africa in 1947, is a flavivirus that is primarily transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes, which can also carry dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and other viruses, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, confirmed cases of virus transmission have been reported from mother to child during pregnancy, transfusion of infected blood, and sexual contact.
Until recently, ZIKV was considered a minor illness where 80 percent of those infected lack symptoms, which are usually mild, including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, lasting two to seven days. Concerns have heightened in recent months as ZIKV has been linked, although not scientifically proven to date, to the birth defect microcephaly and a paralyzing autoimmune disorder, Guillain-Barre Syndrome. With no vaccine available and the prospect of large-scale clinical trials 18 months away, WHO has recently recommended that the countries dealing with the virus focus on various tactics to control the massive mosquito population.