Biopol to consolidate operations in Idaho

FRIDAY, OCT. 27, 2006

A Spokane company that puts the sneezing-scratching-wheezing agents into allergy shots plans to consolidate its operations in Idaho.

Biopol Laboratory Inc. has purchased 12 ½ acres in the Riverbend Commerce Park in Post Falls, where it plans to open a new facility in late 2008 or early 2009.

The company operates a 640 acre farm in Plummer, Idaho, growing a variety of grasses and other plants that cause allergies. Biopol harvests the pollen and processes it at several facilities in Spokane. A new 45,000-square-foot building will allow the company to consolidate its processing work at one location, said Miles Guralnick, Biopol’s president.

Biopol is owned by Vespa Laboratories Inc. of Spring Mills, Pa., which in turn is owned by a Danish firm, ALK-Abello.

Pollen collected at the Plummer firm finds its way into allergy shots distributed in Spain, Denmark and France.

“Timothy grass is quite cosmopolitan,” said Guralnick, noting that the same plant pollens that make Americans sneeze also affect Europeans.

Biopol processes about 700 different allergy agents — mainly plant pollens, but also dust mites. Vespa Laboratories specializes in venom proteins from insect stings at its Pennsylvania plant.

The firms are “friendly competitors” of HollisterStier Laboratories in Spokane, which also has an allergy treatment line, Guralnick said.

Though the number of people with allergies is growing, the market for allergy vaccines has been fairly flat over the last decade, Guralnick said. He expects that to change within the next five years, when oral doses take hold in the United States. In Europe, under-the-tongue doses of allergy vaccines are replacing shots, he said.

“They’re much more user friendly,” Guralnick said.

Biopol currently employs about 25 people. Guralnick expects the number of workers to climb to 35 to 50 employees within five years.


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