Abbott Laboratories to Expand Plant in Temecula, Calif.

May 11--Xience V is a wire mesh tube smaller than a drinking straw. It is also the driving force behind 300,000 square feet of new construction in Temecula.

Abbott Laboratories broke ground Wednesday on a two-building expansion to its Ynez Road plant, a construction project intended largely to provide space for production of Xience V and the hundreds of workers it will require.

Abbott bought the plant last month from Guidant Corp.

Xience V is a drug-coated stent, a product that represents the future of Abbott's vascular division, Division President of Cardiac T herapies John Capek said in an earlier interview. Stents prop open blocked blood vessels. Stents coated with drugs prevent blood clots and are the fastest growing segment of the stent market, Capek said last month.

Guidant announced the plant expansion in March, before it sold the plant to Abbott. But Capek and Abbott Vascular division President of Vascular Solutions Robert Hance said Wednesday that Abbott fully supported the expansion.

The factory is one of Inland Southern California's largest manufacturing operations at a single facility.

The company said it expects to open the two new buildings by the end of 2007. The curved buildings will be connected by a walkway and form the shape of the letter C when viewed from above. They will surround a tree-filled courtyard and house both manufacturing and laboratory space. The new buildings will connect to the existing plant with a pedestrian bridge over Ynez Road.

The existing plant now has more than 4,000 employees, both full-time and part-time, and has been expanding employment for more than a year.

Abbott plans to begin selling Xience V stents in Europe by September. The company had planned to bring the product to market earlier, but had to delay the launch in March because of manufacturing problems.

The company is also developing a second drug-coated stent, ZoMaxx, which it plans to begin selling in Europe by the end of the year.

Speaking at the ground breaking, Capek said that products from the Temecula plant have treated about 1 million patients in the past year, and 12 million to 15 million since the plant opened.

[Press-Enterprise, The (Riverside, CA) (KRT) -- 05/12/06]