Clayton Pharmaceutical Plant Will Manufacture Treatment For Ebola Patients

Officials at the Grifols plant in Clayton pose with members of the Liberia government who were at the Johnston County facility on Wednesday, Dec. 19th. Contributed photo

Grifols providing global humanitarian efforts

On Wednesday, Grifols in Clayton began purifying the first batch of plasma from healthy Ebola survivors from Liberia. The plasma will be used to produce anti-Ebola immunoglobulin, a potential treatment for patients affected by the Ebola virus in Africa, as part of a longer-term Grifols clinical research program. The humanitarian effort is the result of collaborative efforts among Grifols, several non-profit organizations and Liberian scientists at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL).

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberian Minister of Health, said at an event in Clayton, “We are extremely grateful for the possibilities afforded to us through our partnership with Grifols. Ebola was devastating during the 2014-16 outbreak and we welcome all work that might advance the efforts to prevent and treat this deadly disease.” Dr. Jallah’s leadership and collaboration was instrumental in the success of the project.

During the past four years, Grifols has fully financed and built a first-of-its-kind modular plasma donation center that was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia. This novel approach can be adapted to other outbreak situations and scaled as needed. Grifols also constructed a dedicated processing facility at its Clayton, North Carolina, manufacturing complex to produce anti-Ebola immunoglobulin.

Víctor Grífols Roura, President of Grifols, said, “We want to thank all the healthy Liberian donors who are making this project possible, our employees who are on the ground and every person who donates plasma to help improve people’s lives around the world. This project has the potential to revolutionize the way epidemics are approached and demonstrates our relentless determination to respond to international health care emergencies wherever they occur.”

Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with the average fatality rate about 50%. There is a significant unmet need for effective treatments, as currently there are no licensed treatments available to neutralize the virus.[i] Grifols is investigating whether treating patients who have Ebola with plasma collected from healthy people who have survived the disease may help strengthen the immune response to combat Ebola virus disease.

More than 40 Grifols employees and Probitas Foundation (Grifols’ philanthropic organization) professionals traveled to Liberia and volunteered in the plasma-collection process and community efforts. James Johnson, a Liberian national who led the Probitas Foundation team on the ground, said, “Visiting Liberia brought the harsh realities of Ebola to life for our volunteers and the far-reaching impact it has on communities. I would like to thank them and all of the healthy men and women who chose to donate their plasma, for their contribution is helping overcome the stigma of the disease and supporting research in the development of a potential treatment option.”

Grifols fully financed the Ebola project, with the collaboration and support of the government of the Republic of Liberia, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and several nongovernmental organizations. The company has donated more than $10 million to help tackle the global health threat posed by Ebola.

Grifols now starts the process of purification of the plasma, and the first anti-Ebola immunoglobulins will be ready for transfer to the Liberian government by the end of the first quarter of 2019. As part of Grifols’ philanthropic approach, the company will finance the clinical research and with the agreement of the government of Liberia, will deploy the anti-Ebola immunoglobulin to other Ebola outbreak areas.