NJ and the shifting landscape of pharma employment

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New jersey Embryonic stem cell Biotechnology Stem cell

People employed in the pharmaceutical industry in New Jersey, USA fell by one per cent in 2007, according to a report by the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ).

The HINJ’s annual report on the state known by some as the “nation’s medicine cabinet” is based upon the activities of its 22 members, which include Roche, Merck & Co, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Although the decline in employment from 61,971 to 61,347 is not very dramatic it has raised concerns that the state is failing to capture growth within the industry.

Other US states have been stepping up efforts to attract pharmaceutical companies, which has seen J&J shift 260 jobs from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. Pharmaceutical and healthcare now accounts for around 11 per cent of employment in Pennsylvania.

In addition, if Roche’s acquisition of Genentech goes through the Swiss giant will relocate its headquarters and manufacturing operations to California, exacerbating the drain away from New Jersey.

Despite these difficulties there are numerous reasons to be cheerful within the HINJ’s report. Investment in R&D rose by $400m to $7.9bn and there was an increase of $1bn in the economic activity generated by the industry, taking the total to $27bn.

The report does not cover people working in New Jersey for companies based outside the state or biotech employees. Biotech accounts for a relatively small slice of employment in New Jersey, with 6,155 people working in the industry in 2007, up five per cent from 2005.

New Jersey has been attempting to make itself a more attractive proposition for biotechs but has faced difficulties, with the electorate blocking its $450m embryonic stem cell research initiative.

Even without this the state has an array of incentives, including tax credits, grants, loans and research funding. Competition is fierce though with California leading the way and imitators including New York and Texas all vying for the biotech buck.

Massachusetts has a $1bn life science initiative for use across a board range of biotech projects, unlike other states that have prioritised stem cells.

Provisions have been attached to aspects of the funding so that the state will only provide some “grants to commonwealth (of Massachusetts)-based life sciences​” companies.

This is intended to encourage companies to establish their headquarters within the state and build upon the biotech hub that has already sprung up around start ups from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.

Despite this high level of competition the fact that 15 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies have their global or US headquarters in New Jersey, and the level of talent in the state, make it unlikely that it will cease to be a focal point for the industry in the foreseeable future.

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