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US firm Octapharma Plasma may have shut down US operations due to ransomware attack

The US pharmaceutical company has closed more than 150 plasma collection locations, citing “network issues” – but the truth may be more sinister.

user icon David Hollingworth
Fri, 19 Apr 2024
US firm Octapharma Plasma may have shut down US operations due to ransomware attack
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US plasma collection operation Octapharma Plasma – the US arm of Swiss pharmaceutical company Octapharma – has warned of a network issue affecting its operations, leading to the closure of more than 150 of its collection sites.

However, according to reporting by The Register, the issue may, in fact, stem from a ransomware attack.

“All centres are experiencing network issues and are currently closed,” a banner on the company’s website said. “Further updates on reopening will be sent via email, social media, OctaApp, and our website.”


However, a “source familiar with the situation” has a different story – it’s not a “network issue” but an attack by the BlackSuit ransomware gang – and the impact could be significant.

“If they don’t restore the systems, they will need to close their factories in Europe as more than 75 per cent of their plasma comes from the US,” the unnamed source told The Register on 18 April.

“IT management don’t give a s*** about security and they are now learning a lesson.”

According to the source, hackers got into Octapharma Plasma’s VMware systems and deployed their ransomware. As far as they know, the source is unaware of any ransom demand, nor do they know if the company has entered into ransom negotiations.

So far, BlackSuit has not mentioned of the attack on its darknet leak site, but the incident only occurred this week – it can take some time between the initial incident and when a ransomware gang posts about it.

Octapharma Plasma collects plasma for use in a range of therapeutic products, offering cash to donors.

“New plasma donors can earn over $500 during the first 35 days!” the company said in its marketing material.

“In addition to getting paid for each plasma donation, you can make even more money during special promotions and bonuses throughout the year.”

The plasma that Octapharma Plasma collects is an important part of its Swiss parent company’s business.

“In the USA, Octapharma Plasma, Inc collects, tests, and supplies human blood plasma for manufacture into life-saving therapies. Octapharma Plasma, Inc operates more than 190 donation centres in 35 states,” the Octopharma website said.

Octopharma considers itself “one of the largest human protein manufacturers in the world, developing and producing human proteins from human plasma and human cell lines”.

Ransomware operators have taken the gloves off when it comes to attacking healthcare providers recently, and if Octapharma Plasma has, in fact, fallen victim, it will join a growing list of healthcare organisations that have had their business deeply disrupted by a ransomware attack.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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