RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Grifols, a global healthcare company based in Barcelona, Spain, is commemorating the 25 th anniversary year of PROLASTIN ® (alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor [human]) and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency (Alpha1) with a series of events and programs around the world aimed at raising awareness and advancing research into the treatment of alpha1. This rare and life-threatening disease causes genetic emphysema due to low circulating levels of the alpha 1-antitrypsin protein.
PROLASTIN was launched in the U.S. in February 1988 as the first and only FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of alpha1 by augmenting patients' levels of the alpha 1-antitrypsin protein. Twenty-five years later, the PROLASTIN brand of products remains the global market leader for the treatment of this debilitating lung disease, first identified by Swedish researchers Carl-Bertil Laurell and Sten Eriksson in 1963.
"For nearly 17 years, PROLASTIN was the only product available to patients with Alpha-1," said Dr. Sandy Sandhaus, Professor of Medicine and Director, Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency Program at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO. "Since the beginning, the makers of PROLASTIN have been remarkable partners with the patient community in helping to improve their health, educate patients about a little-known disease, and support scientific research to find better ways to detect and treat the disease.""The level of patient support from the manufacturer of PROLASTIN helped many people change their lives," Sandhaus added. To commemorate the 25 th anniversary of PROLASTIN and the 50 th anniversary of the discovery of the disease, Grifols is sponsoring a series of events, including the Alpha-1 Foundation's International Patient Congress in Barcelona and a National Education Conference in Washington, D.C. These events will promote dialogue and collaboration among patients, scientists, and healthcare providers. The goal is to increase diagnosis and promote research into a rare disease that remains vastly under-diagnosed, with an estimated five percent of affected individuals having been properly identified. On the research front, Grifols continues to pursue initiatives with the goal of enhancing the understanding of alpha1 and devising better treatment options for patients. Toward that end, Grifols will initiate a multicenter clinical trial this summer to study the efficacy of multiple doses of PROLASTIN ®-C – a more purified and concentrated formulation of PROLASTIN approved in the U.S. in 2009 and in Canada in 2010. The development of PROLASTIN-C is one example of Grifols' ongoing commitment to devising novel therapeutic products and services. Additional initiatives include the distribution of free Alpha-1 diagnostic kits and the comprehensive disease-management program, PROLASTIN Direct ®. About Grifols Grifols is a global healthcare company with a 70-year legacy of improving people's health and well-being through the development of life-saving plasma medicines, hospital pharmacy products, and diagnostic technology for clinical use. As the third largest global producer of plasma medicines, Grifols has a presence in more than 90 countries and is the world leader in plasma collection, with 150 plasma donation centers across the U.S. Grifols is committed to increasing patient access to its life-saving plasma medicines through significant manufacturing expansions and the development of new therapeutic applications of plasma proteins. The company's class A shares are listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange, where they form part of the Ibex-35 (MCE:GRF). Its non-voting class B shares are listed on the Mercado Continuo (MCE:GRF.P) and on the U.S. NASDAQ via ADRs (NASDAQ: GRFS). In 2011, Grifols' sales exceeded 2,300 million Euros. The company is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide. For more information visit www.grifols.com. About Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, also known as AAT deficiency or Alpha-1, is an inherited disorder that causes a significant reduction in the naturally occurring protein, alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor. While rare, Alpha-1 is the most common cause of genetic emphysema in adults and the most common cause of liver disease in children. Individuals suffering from Alpha-1 often develop severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) leading to disability and premature death. Alpha-1 is estimated to affect 200,000 people in North America and Europe combined, although greater than 90% of individuals remain undiagnosed. About PROLASTIN ® and PROLASTIN ®-C PROLASTIN -C and PROLASTIN are indicated for the treatment of alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency in patients with panacinar emphysema. AAT deficiency is a genetic condition in which low levels of the alpha 1 protein can result in emphysema in adults and liver disease primarily in children. The active protein in PROLASTIN -C increases or augments protein levels in AAT-deficient patients. PROLASTIN -C is approved in the U.S. and Canada, while PROLASTIN is approved or registered in select countries in Europe and South America.