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Episode 6:
Rob Swain, ProStrakan Group Plc *1

The name of ProStrakan Group Plc changed to Kyowa Kirin International plc in April 2016.

I feel that this is a great time to be working for ProStrakan Group. We became a part of the Kyowa Hakko Kirin Group in 2011, and are now benefitting from the renewed strength that the combination of our expertise and resources gives us in the market.

There are many exciting activities, including the integration of the newly acquired Archimedes Pharma business, and also the huge opportunities presented by the KHK pipeline products – these are the products that will really expand the business and will highlight us as one of the top pharmaceutical businesses. I’m genuinely excited to see how the clinical development programs are progressing. We now have the One Drug Development Organization (ODDO) which combines Kyowa Hakko Kirin Pharma, Inc. (KKP) with ProStrakan’s clinical development group. While some clinical development, mainly around post approval commitments, still remains in ProStrakan, the main focus of clinical development now lies within ODDO.

My own focus has shifted very much toward the commercialization of the work that ODDO is carrying out. This structure was already in place within ProStrakan because ProStrakan has historically been very successful in seamlessly bringing products from Development through to commercialization. From my experience this requires a big team effort from people in functions all across the company. It is a truly global activity. As we move forward with commercializing the new products we will continue to learn and look at ways of improving our process.

One of the most exciting things about working for ProStrakan is that I can only see us continuing to expand and grow. The remarkable growth we have seen is a testament to our highly skilled and motivated salesforces across the business. Overall, ProStrakan continues to perform well even as the environment becomes increasingly challenging.

In terms of culture, the structure of ProStrakan has always allowed us to make decisions very quickly. In becoming part of a global business we have had to learn to adapt somewhat to the decision-making structures appropriate to a global business, although joining the KHK family has not greatly affected us in our day-to-day work style. We have a great team of people here, and this has only been added to by our KHK colleagues who have come to our office. We greatly value their input and assistance. The excitement of the development of the new pipeline products has really reenergized everybody in PSK, giving us the enjoyment of taking on a whole new learning curve, getting our hands on, and understanding new product areas. We also have many additional resources that we can call on for issue resolution. We have such a large knowledge base within the global business that we can draw on, that it gives us an extra edge in the work that we are already doing. The integration gives us many, many more opportunities and different ways of working.

What KHK has provided has transformed ProStrakan as a business, with vastly expanded opportunities, and we look forward to even further integration which will happen naturally as we continue to work together. At the same time we hope to still have a great deal of autonomy as ProStrakan. We pride ourselves on dealing with issues very quickly, which has benefitted us all along, so we are happy to be able to maintain that agility. ProStrakan originally took approved drugs and adapted them with added patient benefit as the focus. What we have now with KHK is the additional potential to look at novel technologies. KHK has given us the basis to take that step up and really start to develop and commercialize these novel technologies, which can only benefit patients even more. We wish to continue to produce innovative drugs that meet unmet medical needs, so that we can improve and save lives. That is what the drive has always been within ProStrakan, and that is also what the drive is in KHK - we want to progress as a business but it is critical that while we progress as a business we also progress patient benefit.

In the Commitment to Life there are a number of phrases which resonate, but the one that is difficult to get away from is “Don’t just make medicine. Make people smile, bring light to their lives.” It is important that we all remember this - we are not making car parts or a piece of machinery, what we do really touches people and families. ProStrakan’s ethos was always completely patient-focused, and that part of the Commitment to Life captures that so well. From the clinical development teams to those working in supply chain and manufacturing who deal with more of the day to day activities of making sure that the medicines are in the hospitals when the patients need them, we all understand our role is equally as important, so it is the whole business that pays attention to the Commitment to Life. As Head of Project Management, “strength in numbers” also resonated with me, because we’re a team, and it’s what we all achieve together that matters. It’s not just one person, it’s the whole team that makes the difference.

Looking to the future, I think that with the commercial teams that we have already in place around Europe and in the US within ProStrakan, and KHK’s pipeline of products, we are already well on the way to becoming a Global Specialty Pharmaceutical Company. What we need to do is focus on getting these new technologies to market as quickly as possible and adapting our strategies so that these potential products become available to patients at the earliest possible opportunity. It is clear that we have a great pipeline and highly-talented, highly-motivated people. Once the products are available I can only see us growing very quickly continuing on our journey of becoming a global pharmaceutical company.


*2 The name of ProStrakan Group Plc changed to Kyowa Kirin International plc in April 2016.

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