US to lose 140,000 jobs if status quo is maintained, PhRMA reports

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

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Up to 140,000 jobs could be lost in the US pharma industry
Up to 140,000 jobs could be lost in the US pharma industry
Biopharma executives believe there will be strong growth in domestic R&D activities and biopharma manufacturing, but fewer workers will be needed as efficiencies in productivity are achieved across the industry, according to a new survey from industry group PhRMA. 

Under a “status quo​” scenario, industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) predicts a potential decrease of 4.5% in industry employment​, translating to over 140,000 total jobs lost in the US over the next decade.

However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics still believes there will be 4.8% growth in pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs between 2012 and 2022. The discrepancy reveals a “somewhat pessimistic view from industry executives as to the current trajectory of the business operating environment in the US​,” PhRMA says.

The executives in the survey are calling for specific improvements in the key policy areas that foster biopharmaceutical innovation in order to avoid these losses.

But despite the grim outlook, government data shows that the biopharma industry is among the most innovative and advanced manufacturing industries in the US. And the US still leads the world in biopharma IP generation, and overall clinical and early stage clinical research. Over 70 percent of venture capital investments worldwide are also made in the US.

Growing US Competition

Despite the expected growth, the report highlights three benchmark nations—Brazil, China, and Singapore, which represent up and coming economies that are specifically targeting biopharma growth in both production and innovation.

China’s domestic biopharma consumption increased by 894% from 2001 to 2011, while its production kept pace growing 884% over the same period. By comparison, US saw 53% growth in biopharmaceutical consumption over the same period. Similarly, Singapore and Brazil each had strong growth in both consumption and production of biopharmaceuticals over the past decade.

However, growth in total production of biopharmaceuticals was generally much lower in the US than found in emerging economies.

Executives viewed Singapore as offering a high-quality operating environment at a much lower cost than expected. Singapore was also singled out as continuing to offer a favorable environment in terms of quality versus cost, as well as Germany, which offers a lower than expected cost relative to its high quality.

The UK is rated as having a fair value in its high manufacturing quality compared to its cost, while the US and Japan were considered to have relatively high quality-high cost operating environments in manufacturing. China and Brazil were again viewed as having relatively low quality, but also lower costs.

These findings should serve as a wake-up call to the US​,” PhRMA says. “For the US to maintain its competitiveness in biopharmaceutical development, it needs to pay close attention to bolstering capabilities in both R&D and manufacturing, while creating a business environment that allows companies in this and other R&D-intensive sectors to become more efficient and effective​.”

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