The Pharmaceutical Industry Helps Strengthen the U.S. Economy
A major contributor to the U.S. economy, the biopharmaceutical sector generates high-quality jobs and powers economic output for the U.S. economy, serving as the “the foundation upon which one of the United States’ most dynamic innovation and business ecosystems is built,” according to the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice .
These economic impacts are driven by the industry’s research and development (R&D) enterprise . The U.S. biopharmaceutical sector accounts for the single largest share of all U.S. business R&D, representing nearly 20 percent of all domestic R&D funded by U.S. businesses, according to data from the National Science Foundation.
PhRMA members have invested more than half a trillion dollars in R&D since 2000, including an estimated $48.5 billion in 2012 alone. The impacts of this spending and the sector’s broad support for biomedical research ripple across the economy.
The U.S. biopharmaceutical sector employs more than 650,000 workers and supports a total of 4 million jobs across the country. The high number of jobs supported indirectly reflects the fact that the industry is a “jobs multiplier,” meaning that each biopharmaceutical sector job supports almost five additional jobs across the economy.
The industry helps support a vibrant scientific and economic ecosystem that is vital to the U.S. economy and our country’s competitiveness in the global market. Biopharmaceutical companies put down roots in communities across the country, helping to generate jobs across a whole range of sectors, from suppliers to retail to personal services.
The jobs the industry creates have high wages and require a workforce with diverse skills and educational levels, from Ph.D. scientists to entry-level technicians, to support staff of all kinds. In 2009, the average annual total compensation for biopharmaceutical workers was $118,690, compared with $64,197 for all U.S. workers.
Overall economic contribution
As measured by Battelle, the overall economic impact of the biopharmaceutical sector on the U.S. economy totals more than $918 billion on an annual basis when direct, indirect, and induced effects are considered. This figure includes vendors and suppliers throughout the country that assist biopharmaceutical companies in the discovery, development and delivery of medicines for patients.
To provide insight into the breadth of the industry’s impact in the form of business relationships with vendors large and small, a recent analysis by We Work for Health aggregated data from 17 innovative companies across 17 states . The analysis found that in 2011, these biopharmaceutical companies spent approximately $53 billion in transactions with vendors and suppliers in these states.
Although just a snapshot of the sector’s total impact, these findings demonstrate the importance of a strong and vibrant biopharmaceutical industry in helping other businesses to grow and contribute to a strong local economy. Vendor data from this analysis, broken down by congressional and state legislative district, can be viewed on www.weworkforhealth.org .
Boosting State and Regional Economies
Biopharmaceutical companies collaborate with local research institutions across the country—including clinical research centers, university medical schools, hospitals, and foundations—to carry out clinical trials, providing patients access to potential new treatments as well as creating local jobs.
A PhRMA program called “Research in Your Backyard” helps to illustrate the impact trials have on communities around the country. Sixteen state reports developed by the program have been released highlighting the biopharmaceutical economic impact on these communities  through clinical trials.
Another aspect of the economic impact of medicines is their potential to improve productivity in the workplace through reduced absenteeism or disability leave, which benefits both individual patients and the economy as a whole. Several of the most common chronic conditions are estimated to have a combined cost to the economy of more than $1 trillion annually in lost productivity. Examples of improved productivity include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Researchers at the Integrated Benefits Institute found that high cost sharing for rheumatoid arthritis medications decreased adherence  and led to increased incidence and longer duration of short-term disability leave. Researchers estimated that when workers with arthritis take their medication as directed, their lost productivity drops by 26 percent.
- Chronic Conditions: Research shows that workers diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who are adherent to prescribed medicines were absent up to seven fewer days from work and used five fewer days of short-term disability compared with non-adherent workers.