Perfect anniversary prescription as firm reveals record sales

The boss of a speciality pharmaceutical company – founded two decades ago and now employing 130 staff at its Galashiels headquarters – has paid tribute to his workforce.

“Twenty years is a fantastic milestone and a tribute to the skills and dedication of the people who have helped take us forward,” said Tom Stratford, chief executive of ProStrakan Group PLC.

Dr Stratford, who lives near Kelso with wife Penny and their three teenaged daughters, revealed that worldwide sales of prescription products researched, developed and licensed by ProStrakan hit a record £160m in 2014/15 – up from the £105m achieved in 2011 when the firm became a major subsidiary of the Japan-based global pharmaceutical giant Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK).

“The acquisition by KHK has seen notable investment in our essential research and development as well as our commercial operations at a dozen locations in the UK, Europe and the US and over the past four years our workforce worldwide has gone up from 300 to 500,” said Dr Stratford.

It’s all a far cry from the small operation – trading as Strakan – which was set up in an office in Melrose Station in 1995 by Tom’s father Harry Stratford and his business partner John Kanis.

The breakthrough for the fledgling enterprise came in 1999 with the UK licensing of ADCAL-D3, a supplement aimed at correcting deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D and a boon for people with conditions such as osteoporosis.

It was a success which saw the company relocate at the start of the new millennium to a refurbished mill in what is now the Galabank Business Park.

In 2004, Strakan merged with French-based ProSkelia to form ProStrakan and, the following year, it was floated on the London Stock Exchange.

Other products followed, including Sancuso – a transdermal patch for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy – and Abstral which tackles the so-called breakthrough pain experienced by cancer sufferers.

Dr Stratford, who joined the company in 1997 and was in charge of business development until becoming chief executive in 2011, said ProStrakan was entering an “exciting phase” with several new products set to hit the market, including more cancer treatments and a new drug to combat a rare genetic disease which affects the development of children with the condition.

“Although it’s true to say we could be headquartered anywhere in the world, Galashiels is a great place from which to run an international business and we are able to attract skilled people both locally and from across the UK,” said Dr Stratford.

“The coming of the railway will make the Borders an even more attractive proposition, particularly for those members of staff who currently commute from Edinburgh.

“We’ve had 20 happy and successful years here – long may it continue!”