B. Braun Investing $500M to Overhaul Irvine Campus

Friday, April 23, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Business Journal)

B. Braun, an infusion therapy company, is making good on its promise to help end IV fluid shortages in the country.

It is about halfway through a $500 million overhaul of its plant and sprawling 30-acre campus in Irvine next to the Diamond Jamboree shopping center.

The German-based company, the fourth largest medical device maker in OC with 2,200 employees, is a manufacturer and seller of infusion pumps and IV fluids used to hydrate patients, administer drugs and replace lost blood volume on a daily basis.

B. Braun’s ambitious plans in Irvine are for “the replacement of aging equipment, upgrading utilities and production lines, and increasing capacity across all seven product lines,” Pete Klaes, general manager and the top local official at B. Braun, told the Business Journal.

Local renovations and upgrades account for half of B. Braun’s $1 billion corporate-wide reinvestment effort, called Solutions for Life, which was unveiled in 2019 after several years of supply issues brought on by destructive weather events and severe influenza seasons, the company said.

Facilities in Pennsylvania and a new facility in Florida are also part of the investment plan. Once fulfilled, B. Braun will have two IV fluid plants from coast to coast in the U.S. and “double the capacity for IV solutions,” Klaes said.

OC Footprint
B. Braun, a family-owned company founded in 1839, has maintained a local presence for several decades.

The company acquired Irvine-based IV bag maker McGaw—a subsidiary of Ivax Corp., now part of Teva Pharmaceuticals—for a reported $320 million in 1997. Since then, its local base has run along McGaw Avenue, just off Jamboree Road.

At one point the company’s holdings in Irvine reportedly totaled nearly 50 acres, before it shed some excess land. Business Journal records estimate the company’s Irvine facilities to run nearly 700,000 square feet, with its main manufacturing plant running about half a million square feet.

The company’s been growing its local presence of late. Last June, B. Braun paid nearly $8 million to buy an additional 30,600-square-foot industrial building at 2206 Alton Parkway, on the other side of the company’s campus.

“We’ve been committed to Southern California and manufacturing at this facility ever since (the McGaw acquisition),” Klaes said, noting the local talent pool remains one of the major attractions to the area.

B. Braun remains one of the few IV fluid manufacturers in the U.S., along with Baxter International Inc. and Hospira Infusion Systems, the latter of which ICU Medical Inc. of San Clemente (Nasdaq: ICUI) purchased for $900 million in 2017.

Products in Demand
B. Braun implemented a number of safety measures such as masking and temperature-checking ahead of state-mandated shutdowns last year, allowing its Irvine operations to go on uninterrupted during the pandemic, Klaes said.

The company carries safety inventory along with its distributor partners to ensure a steady supply of critical fluids. While demand is typically stable, “that hasn’t been the case over the last year,” Klaes said. “We’ve seen spikes in demand for certain products.”

One example is increased orders for Heparin, a blood thinner used to prevent blood clots from forming. Blood thinners decrease the need for organ support and reduce mortality among moderately ill COVID patients, according to research from the National Institute of Health.

B. Braun also received federal clearance for the first and only acetaminophen injection available in multiple doses in February. The product is manufactured in Irvine and has “already exceeded initial expectations,” Klaes said.

Sustainable Players
B. Braun wants to boost supply the right way.

“We are very proud to be the only IV solutions provider of a full line of products free of PVC and DEHP materials,” Klaes said.

PVC is not permitted in kids toys, and studies show the material produces harmful effects in infants and long-term users. DEHP is not recyclable, according to B. Braun’s website.
Others are following suit.

Competitor ICU Medical issued a rare press release last August, announcing a collaboration with Barcelona-based Grifols to distribute a full line of non-PVC and non-DEHP IV containers to customers in the U.S.

B. Braun is a bronze-level Leaders Circle partner of the Greater Irvine Chamber.

Category: Partner News, Economic Development, Leaders Circle, Greater Irvine Chamber