FDA approves freeze-dried blood plasma for use by U.S. troops

The military is getting a leg-up on ordinary civilians when it comes to wound treatment — courtesy of a decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve an experimental freeze-dried blood plasma for use by U.S. troops, even though it’s not approved for wider use by the population at large.

The freeze-dried plasma could be a lifesaver in war zones, where regular injuries are still unfortunately common. Plasma is the component in blood which causes clotting, thereby stopping the bleeding. The advantage of the freeze-dried plasma is that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and can also be delivered more quickly, since it doesn’t have to be thawed out as with regular frozen blood plasma.

Whether or not the freeze-dried plasma — which is manufactured by a company in France — would get approved was mired in some controversy. Last year, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) attempted to circumvent the FDA by giving the Department of Defense the ability to allow its use without going through the regulatory authority. Nonetheless, the FDA ultimately approved the technology, although it has yet to do so for wider use among civilians.

“Through our collaborative program with the [Department of Defense], they’ve made clear the importance of access to freeze-dried plasma in initial efforts to control hemorrhage from battlefield trauma,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “Granting this authorization will support access to this important product in the event it’s needed. The FDA remains deeply committed to implementing an enduring pathway to ensure that these potentially life-saving medical products are made available in the most expeditious, safe and effective manner possible.”

This isn’t the first smart technology we’ve covered, designed to help soldiers injured in combat. Recently we wrote about a new type of polystyrene and rubber wound dressing developed by the U.S. Army. Intended to stop extreme bleeding, it features amazing levels of absorbency, allowing it to absorb up to 800 percent of the material’s weight in liquid.

Meanwhile, a pair of scientists in the U.S. recently announced independently developed synthetic blood technologies which could buy trauma patients valuable extra hours. One key potential audience for this technology is the military.

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