India to produce and provide the blood clotting proteins F8 and F9 free of cost to patients suffering from the world's oldest known hereditary bleeding disorder – haemophilia.

The Health Ministry of India is finalizing plans to set up the country's first Plasma Fractionation Unit (PFU) that will manufacture these life-saving proteins within the country. At present, F8 and F9 transfusions are very expensive as the proteins are either available only in the private sector or have to be imported from the US. Costing Rs 9 per unit, a severe haemophiliac has to be infused with seven units of F8 per kg of body weight three times a day for a week before even a minor surgery. Others receive 5-7 units of F8 protein per kg of body weight every month as a precautionary measure.

Those who need monthly transfusion easily spend over Rs 10,000 per month. For those who need transfusion before a surgery, costs go up to Rs 1 lakh.  To cost nearly Rs 250 crore, the PFU, which will tremendously benefit the country's 1.5 lakh haemophilia patients, is being set up by the National AIDS Control Programme (Naco) and is expected to start production of plasma derivatives within two years. The ministry's Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) gave the go ahead to the project on March 26. The proposal will be presented to the Cabinet by mid-May. Naco director-general K Sujatha Rao said that in full capacity, the PFU will process 1.5 lakh litres of plasma per year. F8 and F9 proteins will then be supplied free of cost. Once the Cabinet approves the project, we will finalize designs and start building the unit.

Union health secretary Naresh Dayal added: "Global real estate adviser DTZ is providing ministry technical assistance. They are lining up international consultants to design, develop and execute the concept besides providing the equipment." Indira Venkataraman of the Haemophilia Federation of India said: "The PFU will be a boon even if it provides proteins free of cost to 80% of BPL patients."