While other Los Angeles employers are shedding jobs, a Spanish supplier of blood plasma-based therapies plans to nearly double its manufacturing capacity in East L.A., potentially adding 300 jobs in the next four years.

Grifols USA, the L.A.-based U.S. subsidiary of Grifols SA of Barcelona broke ground last week on a 92,000-square-foot facility on Lillyvale Avenue in the El Sereno neighborhood. The 26-acre Grifols campus includes corporate offices, training facilities and manufacturing for several therapies treating hemophilia and other blood diseases.

The new building, which should be completed next year but likely not licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until possibly 2013, will produce intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, which bolsters the immune systems of patients with Immune Deficiency Disease. The condition afflicts more than 100,000 people in the United States alone.

"We make products that enable people who are very, very ill to lead virtually normal lives," said David Bell, vice president of corporate operations and development. The company currently employs 600 people in L.A. but as many as 200 additional employees from other parts of the country are here for training or on a temporary basis at any given time.

Grifols, which entered the U.S. IVIG market in 2004, currently supplies the therapy from its Barcelona facility using plasma donated from its 82 donor centers around the U.S. The new U.S. manufacturing plant will meet more of the U.S. demand and also provide products to Europe, South America and Asia.

"When Grifols began selling in the U.S. there was an actual shortage of IVIG in the U.S., so the fact they are expanding capacity here in the U.S. is a big deal for our patient community," said Marcia Boyle, founder and president of the Immune Deficiency Foundation. Boyle, whose son suffers from the disease, came from suburban Baltimore to attend the Jan. 13 groundbreaking.

The company's U.S. operations have been in L.A. since 2003, when it acquired property and other assets from Alpha Therapeutics Corp. The new facility, estimated to cost $135 million, is the first part of a $600 million long-range investment plan the company has for its U.S. operations, said Grifols USA President Greg Rich.

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