The number of clinical trials undertaken worldwide to test new drugs surpassed the 250,000 mark for the first time last year — and this Burton-on-Trent company is an increasingly important cog in the medical research machine. Mark Waters, 53, and Ben Everington, 34, spotted the opportunity in 2013 to establish a specialist business sourcing the drugs required for trials. Their team of 20 people works with manufacturers to ensure the right drugs arrive on time and safely wherever in the world the trials are taking place. Waters, the company chairman, and Everington, its managing director, spent Midwinter’s first two years working on small trials, posting sales of £1.7m in 2015. One breakthrough came when the pair struck an exclusive distribution agreement with Sun Pharmaceutical Industries in 2014. It has since added Accord and SeaCross to its roster of 70 customers and partners that it can cite publicly. Annual sales had increased to £11.8m by February 2017. A month earlier, the founders were joined by former colleagues Tony Phillips, 50, and Tim Morgan, 42. The four had met while working at Clinigen, the pharmaceutical services firm that topped the Fast Track 100 in 2011. It floated on AIM a year later valued at £135m and is now worth £1.2bn. Midwinter’s own sales rocketed to £61.8m in the year to February 2018, generating profits of £10.7m. It sold more than 250,000 packs of medicine that year and now ships over 5m vials, syringes and tablets annually. Self-funded to date, it has invested in a high-spec warehouse facility at its head office and established a satellite office in Wales last year. Waters says the firm’s name was inspired by the chilly temperatures of its working environment — where drugs must be stored at between 2C and 8C. Brexit could help its fortunes, given its expertise in securing safe, speedy passage for drugs across borders. Exports are close to £11m and growing strongly in Asia and Australia. Despite such success, the directors say there are no plans for an initial public offering. However, as spending on clinical research increases — analysts predict the market will be worth $65bn by 2025 — Midwinter’s reputation should continue to grow.
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