EU exit warning as Galashiels firm is rebranded

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The boss of a Galashiels pharmaceutical firm believes it will be “bad for this business” if the UK votes to leave the European Union in June.

Dr Tom Stratford, chief executive of Prostrakan Group PLC for the past five years, made his views clear on Monday when his company, which employs 150 people at its headquarters in King Street, was officially re-named Kyowa Kirin.

The rebranding reflects the ambition of its Japanese parent Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK) – which acquired ProStrakan in 2011 – to become a so-called Global Speciality Pharmaceutical (GSP) company.

And central to achieving that goal are new products which have been developed and licensed in Galashiels and which are currently being trialled in Europe and the USA.

“Europe is one of our more important markets and we have sales divisions in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands,” Dr Stratford told The Southern.

“We also benefit from having a single EU body – the European Medicines Agency [EMA] – which, since 1995, has been successful in evaluating, supervising and monitoring the safety of products developed by pharmaceutical companies like us in 28 member states.

“The agency ensures all medicines available in a market of over 500million people are safe, effective and of high quality while also playing a key role in supporting the development of medical products for the benefit of patients.

“I believe the status quo works well for our company and that losing that continuity by leaving the EU, without knowing what would replace it, would, in my view, be bad for this business.”

Among his firm’s near-to-market new products is an antibody for the genetic condition X-Linked Hypophosphatemia - a deforming and painful form of rickets which affects the bones and growth of children, but does not respond to Vitamin D treatment.

Also undergoing trials is another antibody which tackles T-cell Leukemia and Lymphoma in adults while a third innovation, due to be marketed in the US, is a molecule to address the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s, the progressive disease of the nervous system.

On the rebranding, Dr Stratford, who is now officially chief exectutive of Kyowa Kirin International, was upbeat.

“The business is entering an exciting launch phase for these and other near-to-market products so it’s a logical time for the rebranding so that KHK can present a consistent image across the world,” he told us.

Since Monday, all KHK’s western pharmaceutical subsidiaries, including ProStrakan’s divisions which employ another 350 people outwith the Borders, will come under the Kyowa Kirin name.

“We are proud of our heritage as ProStrakan and the part we play in the KHK group,” said Dr Stratford.

“I am confident we will continue to play a significant role in the Scottish life sciences sector and in our markets across Europe and the US.”