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Pharma contributes £32 billion to UK economy

Published on 26/03/15 at 04:59pm
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Pharma generated over half of the UK life sciences industry’s turnover in 2014 according to a report from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and Office for Life Sciences.

Of the £56.2 billion generated in life sciences in the UK, £32.4 billion was created by big pharma – by far the biggest sector. There has also been growth – although it has been slight.

Between 2012 and 2014 companies posted a “marginally positive net increase in estimated turnover of 0.2%”, the report finds.

The sector – defined as firms that have a global turnover greater than £640m – consists of 545 companies, and all of the top 20 global firms have a presence in the UK.

Pharma employs 70,000 people, including 53,200 in companies that are employed in discovering, developing and marketing medicines, despite the job losses that have occurred after big pharma mergers.

“The estimated employment trends indicate that the decrease across the sector was driven in large part by restructuring by the large pharmaceutical companies”, the report notes.

The areas with most financial progression were involved in therapeutic proteins and vaccines, which accounted for ‘significant economic activity’, as were biologic drugs that now represent 20-22% of global prescription sales.

Contract manufacturing and research companies, clinical research organisations and suppliers of laboratory consumables and equipment dominate the service and supply segment.

This analysis comes shortly after a similar study commissioned by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) found that between 2006 and 2012, the global economic value generated by pharma rose by $129 billion, to $437 billion – driven by emerging markets in Asia and Oceania.

UK life sciences minister George Freeman recently announced a new expert advisor and terms of reference for the accelerated access review into innovative medicines and medical technology.

Commenting on the report, Freeman says: “Overall turnover in the UK life sciences industry remains high and the industry’s contribution to UK employment strong. This is despite the restructuring that has been taking place globally in the sector, over the last few years in particular.

“This, along with the already competitive business environment within the UK, will put us in a position to continue to attract life sciences companies to set up and expand here.”

Download the report here.

Lilian Anekwe

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