A Gala to Remember: PPTA Celebrates 20 Years!

I feel like I went to the high school senior prom I never got to go to in 1975. On Wednesday night the Plasma Protein Therapeutic Association (PPTA) celebrated 20 years of representing the plasma manufacturers worldwide. Dressed up for this black-tie event in Washington DC, I was able to mingle and meet with CEOs, senior executives, patient advocates and the wonderful staff of PPTA.

The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA) is the primary advocate for the world’s leading source plasma collectors and producers of plasma-based and recombinant biological therapeutics. The medicines produced by PPTA members are used in treating life-threatening diseases and serious medical conditions including bleeding disorders, immune system deficiencies, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, burns and shock. As the global representative for the plasma collection and therapeutics industry, PPTA works cooperatively with patient groups, policymakers, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders.

I met with many good friends and colleagues in hemophilia: Art Wood and Jim Romano from PSI (you do know what PSI is, right?); Pete O’Malley of Baxter; Paolo Marcucci, CEO of Kedrion and colleague Federico Rolando; Patrick Robert of the Market Research Bureau and his lovely wife Clare; Chris Healey of Grifols; Shinj Wada, CEO, Biomat USA, Inc. and many others. Jan Bult, president and personal friend, gave a wonderful speech and then showed a 9-minute movie of the importance and history of plasma-derived therapies. (This film is available through PPTA if you want to order it; I highly recommend it). It’s staggering to realize all the people whose vision made these therapies a reality, and then to hear and see the actual patients whose lives have been improved because of them. I’m so locked into hemophilia, I lose perspective that there are millions who suffer rom immune disorders, for example—and face the same issues that we do: access to affordable therapies, health insurance, complications, employment.

Theresa Andrews sharing her Olympic medal with
Laurie Kelley

But the big surprise of the evening was an old friend. When Jan introduced the keynote speaker, Theresa Andrews, I thought, not her, not the wonderful hemophilia social worker I knew from University of Virginia who edited my books and articles many years ago, who wrote for us, who had positive attitude plus. Yes, it was she! But what would she speak about? She had “retired” years ago. Who knew she was a two-time Olympic gold medalist? Her story was amazing. Perseverance, team work, winning the gold by only a fraction of a second, and best of all, Theresa gave her first Olympic gold medal to her brother Dan in a private gathering, honoring him for his courage after he was paralyzed at the age of 19. This brother went on to be a judge, husband and father of several children, and Theresa, who has perseverance and great attitude, says Dan is her inspiration. I went to congratulate Theresa and we embraced like long lost friends—which we were! She let me wear the medal and we promised to stay in touch. Theresa just radiates good will and positive spirit, and together with her brother’s story makes you feel that anything is possible. I am quite partial to plasma therapies because while they play a vital role in countries like the US, they are essential to lesser-developed countries. Lower prices for plasma-derived factor means governments with small budgets can better afford them. And the PPTA team will continue to watchdog and monitor for safety. Congratulations to Jan, Albert, Charles, Julie, Josh, Diane, Dawn, their colleagues and all the supporters of PPTA. And thank you for a wonderful evening!

For more info: http://www.pptaglobal.org/

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