Voluntary, anonymous free gift-giving has become nowadays the dominant norm for blood donation for transfusion purposes, in view of its established ability to satisfy the needs in labile blood products in satisfactory conditions of safety and cost. But the economy of blood products is also the place of one of the main exceptions to the principle of non-commercialization of body parts. We show that there exists a genuine international plasma market, which provides the raw materials for the production of blood protein products by pharmaceutical industries. The recent years have seen a considerable strengthening of the massive and globalized features of this market. We briefly describe the issues that this evolution raises, and we sketch some directions for a partial resolution of them. We notably explain why the development of contract fractionation appears both possible and desirable from an economic perspective in the present context.


Prof. Jean Mercier Ythier is professor of economics at the University of Paris, Panthéon-Assas, France. He graduated from the Institute of Political Studies of Paris (PhD, 1989). He was also a graduate student at Harvard University (1986-87). He went notably through positions of invited research fellow at the University of Montréal (Québec, Canada), assistant professor and associate professor of economics at the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne and professor of economics at the University of Lorraine (France). Prof. Jean Mercier Ythier’s research interests include the theory of general competitive equilibrium, microeconomic theory, public economic theory, economic philosophy, altruism, ethics, and topics of economic anthropology.