Cerus Corp has signed a three-year purchase agreement with the Swiss Red Cross Blood Service, with terms that anticipate deployment of the Intercept Blood System for platelets in 11 of its 13 blood centers. The Swiss Red Cross has oversight responsibility for blood centers supporting all Swiss cantons.

The Intercept Blood System for platelets, developed and marketed by Cerus, protects patients from platelet transfusions contaminated with bacteria and infectious disease by inactivating pathogens in donated blood. An estimated 31,000 platelet doses were prepared and transfused in Switzerland in 2009.

In August of 2009, the Swiss regulatory body, Swissmedic, approved the use of platelet components treated with the Intercept system. The approval extends the permitted storage time for platelets to seven days with Intercept treatment, compared to five days without treatment, and also allows Intercept to be used in place of gamma irradiation for prevention of transfusion-associated graft versus host disease. Full deployment of Intercept in Swiss blood centers is expected to take nine to fifteen months.

Claes Glassell, president and chief executive officer of Cerus, said: “The Swiss have made the decision to implement pathogen inactivation for their platelet components in order to proactively address the risks of bacterial contamination and emerging pathogens.

“The Swiss Red Cross has taken a key step in improving the overall safety of blood transfusion in Switzerland and becomes the latest country, following Belgium and Kuwait, to make pathogen inactivation broadly available for their platelet supply.”

Rudolf Schwabe, chief executive officer of the Swiss Red Cross Blood Service, said: “We are following our health authority’s recommendation to introduce pathogen inactivation, which is also consistent with our commitment to providing patients in Switzerland with the highest quality blood components available. The deployment of Intercept for platelets will further safeguard the blood supply.”