WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

La Casa

Today the Grifols name is known worldwide. It is a global company, with more than 20,000 employees across the globe, dedicated to the well-being of patients. But the story of this unique company begins humbly, in a family home in Spain in the early years of the twentieth century.

A family business

Over a century ago, doctor and homeopath Josep Antoni Grífols Morera enthused his son with a passion for science in the family's Barcelona home. It was here that young Josep Antoni Grífols i Roig later built his laboratory, and ultimately his business, with the help of his own sons.

The name of that laboratory was "Instituto Central de Análisis Clínicos, Bacteriológicos y Químicos". Opened by Grífols Roig with the help of some fellow university graduates in 1909, it was to become the genesis of the Grifols company.

In the 1920s Josep Antoni took full charge of the laboratory, which was mostly dedicated to clinical analysis and the manufacture of vaccines at the time.

Breakthrough in transfusion

On 23rd May 1928, Dr. Grífols i Roig demonstrated for the first time in Spain that blood could be donated, stored and then transferred to a patient without the donor and recipient both being present.

Grifols' blood transfusion apparatus was presented to the Barcelona Royal Academy of Medicine. By building on the work of other scientists, Josep Antoni had perfected the aseptic system.

A step forward in plasma conservation: lyophilization

Sons Josep Antoni and Víctor had learned their trade at their father's feet in the family home, as their father had done before them.

By the end of the Spanish Civil war in 1939, they had taken over the family business from their father. They decided to divide responsibilities and play to their individual strengths. Josep Antoni took on the science research while Víctor became technical director.

A key part of their business strategy was to embrace lyophilization, a process where substances can be dried out without losing their properties. It could be applied effectively to the storage of plasma, with huge potential advantages to the emerging business. The company obtained a patent for Spain in 1943, and when it became clear no adequate lyophilization equipment was available, the brothers built it themselves.

The arrival of the blood bank

In 1945 the company inaugurated a blood bank inspired by pioneering work by Dr. Duran i Jordà during the Spanish Civil War. The facility supplied blood to hospitals and separated out plasma for transfusion.

Lack of dependable intravenous solutions led Grifols to manufacture its own. Unknown to the company at the time, this was its first venture into a sector that would one day become a key business area.

Plasmapheresis: the key to the company's future

Tragedy struck the Grífols family in 1958 with the death of Josep Antoni Grífols i Lucas at the age of 41. But he left a legacy that was to have a revolutionary impact on not only the company but also the wider medical community: plasmapheresis.

It's still used to this day, and is one of the foundational techniques of the plasma derivatives industry.

Plasmapheresis is a procedure which allows blood cells and platelets to be injected into a patient after the plasma has been extracted from the original blood donation.

Because the body takes only two days to regenerate its plasma compared to 90 for whole blood, plasma donations can be more frequent and provide larger quantities of the fluid without putting the donor's health at risk.

The fathers of hemotherapy

Albumin is one of the plasma proteins discovered and isolated by Edwin Joseph Cohn in the early 1940s. Thanks to that work, he stands together with Josep Antoni Grífols i Lucas as one of the fathers of the plasma medicines industry.

In Spain, Grifols industrialized Dr. Cohn's method of plasma fractionation with a plant that produces both albumin and gamma globulin. And fractionation remains an essential part of our company's business to this day.

These techniques plus access to significantly more plasma allowed the company to industrialize its operations, opening the door to improving the lives of more people, worldwide. In short, Dr. Grífols i Lucas's work was a turning point for the world of hemotherapy, and helped ensure the family firm could become a leading global company.