Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Red Cross Gets Some Competition for Blood Supply

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Red Cross Gets Some Competition for Blood Supply

Article excerpt

The American Red Cross is getting competition for blood drives in the metropolitan area.

A private, for-profit company called Gateway Community Blood Program started in October, mainly by former Red Cross employees, said Chris Braudis, Gateway's director of donor recruitment. The approximately 20 employees work out of offices at 1880 Craigshire Road, near West Port Plaza.

"Our goal is not to put Red Cross out of business but to give it competition to lower prices," he said.

Area hospitals wanted an alternative to the Red Cross, the main supplier of blood in this area, Braudis said. "They don't want to pay the prices Red Cross is offering," he said, adding that some are turning to suppliers in Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama.

Braudis said last week that since Gateway was founded, the Red Cross has lowered the price of blood it charges hospitals. Still, Gateway's average price is about $6 less for each unit than is Red Cross blood, he said.

The principal officer of the St. Louis-area Red Cross, John Forbes, said it was unfair to compare the two groups' prices. He said some Red Cross prices might be higher, but some also might be lower than Gateway's, depending on the blood product and customer contract. Neither group would release specific prices.

Gateway held its first blood drive about two weeks ago at an Office Depot in St. Louis County.

Giving blood through Gateway will be the same as it is through the Red Cross. Braudis said Gateway was licensed and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, just as the Red Cross is. Neither group pays donors.

Braudis said Gateway was the only competitor in the area for the Red Cross. Another such company, Life Line Personal Blood Center in Bridgeton, shut down last year, he said. The company had sued the Red Cross, saying it was trying to run Life Line out of business, a charge the Red Cross denied. Life Line's owner, James Kujawa, could not be reached for comment. …

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