Baxter investing $300 million to expand dialyzers production in Alabama

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Baxter International, Inc. is expanding its Opelika, Ala. manufacturing location to boost production of dialyzers, a key component of hemodialysis therapy systems for end-stage renal patients.

The $300 million project is expected to increase the existing facility by 230,000 square feet, including cleanroom space and the addition of several production lines with injection molding machines. The 170-strong workforce is expected to more than double with the addition of 200 more employees. Baxter will begin that hiring process in 2016, around the same time construction is complete.

“The expansion will allow us to add new lines, some of which will include new injection molding equipment that will produce the housing for the dialyzers,” said Baxter spokeswoman Jill Carey-Hargrave, via email. “The dialyzers produced at the plant are next-generation, high-flux dialyzers that incorporate advancements in membrane technology and structural design, including a unique synthetic polymer material used in the membrane of the device.” 

Dialyzers essentially perform the same function as kidneys for dialysis patients, cleaning toxic substances out of the blood by filtering it through a partially permeable membrane made up thousands of tiny, hollow polymer fibers. 

The expansion is in response to anticipated demand for dialysis equipment, according to Baxter. With nearly 2 million patients worldwide with end-stage renal disease already receiving hemodialysis therapy,  Baxter estimates that patient population to grow by 6 to 7 percent annually around the world in coming years. 

Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter is planning to split its medical devices and biopharmaceutical units into two companies next year.