Grifols Begins Producing First COVID-19 Drug in Clayton

Grifols logo

Grifols, a global biotherapeutics company with major operations in North Carolina, has begun producing the first specific COVID-19 drug at its manufacturing campus in Clayton.

The company is producing hyperimmune immunoglobulin with specific antibodies, using the plasma of people who have overcome COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.

The first doses are expected to be available in July as part of a clinical trial, the company announced in a news release.

The production is part of a collaboration with U.S. government entities including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority and other healthcare agencies.

Grifols is the worldwide leader in the production and sale of immunoglobulins, a growing global market. Facilities at its Clayton manufacturing campus have been specifically designed to process specialty immunoglobulins.

Immunoglobulins are plasma proteins that act like antibodies as part of the body’s defense system. Due to their broad scope of action, immunoglobulins have a wide range of clinical applications, such as preventing infections in immunodeficient patients and treating autoimmune diseases.

More than 5,000 clinical trials around the world are exploring additional treatments for immunoglobulins, according to ClinicalTrials.gov, a resource provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Grifols is conducting a clinical trial in Spain to assess the effectiveness of high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin to stabilize or improve the condition of COVID-19 patients.

The trial will assess the action of neutralizing antibodies, proteins that bind to viruses and prevent them from infecting human cells. It will also determine the ability of immunoglobulins to block cytokines, proteins of the immune system that attack cells and tissues in patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

Growing in Clayton

Grifols’ campus in Clayton is one of the world’s largest manufacturing sites for plasma-derived medicines. With more than 1,600 employees, the campus is the largest employer in Johnston County.

Production worker at Grifols in Clayton.
Production worker at Grifols in Clayton. -- Grifols photo

Earlier this week Grifols announced it will hire 300 more employees in Clayton as part of a $351.6 million investment that will add a specialized blood plasma facility and logistics center. The expansion is the latest of several additions in recent years.

Grifols opened a $400 million plasma-fractionation plant in Clayton in 2014 and is finishing construction of a $90 million fractionation facility that will open in 2021.

The company is also building a $120 million purification and filling facility that will mainly produce immune globulin and factor VIII protein therapies. That three-story, 150,000-square-foot facility, is scheduled to begin operating in 2022.

Grifols also has a bioscience division headquarters in Research Triangle Park that employs more than 400 people.

Based in Barcelona, Spain, Grifols has more than 24,000 employees in 30 countries and regions. Its products are sold in more than 100 countries through four divisions: bioscience, diagnostic, hospital and bio supplies.

The company is known for its work in plasma-derived and transfusion medicines. It operates a network of donation centers worldwide and transforms collected plasma into medicines to treat rare, chronic and, at times, life-threatening conditions.

Plasma, the "water" portion of blood, is rich in proteins, some of which have therapeutic value. Grifols uses a process called fractionation that separates proteins so they can be purified and sterilized for use in medicines that restore or replace missing proteins.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
Thu, 06/11/2020 - 11:40