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AZ tops annual R&D spend in UK, Roche is greatest pharma spender worldwide

Published on 24/10/17 at 09:34am

New findings of a report by PwC have revealed the biggest spenders in R&D worldwide as global spending hits $700 billion, with Roche coming out on top within the pharmaceutical industry with a total expenditure of $11.4 billion in 2017, a 14% increase on the previous year which brought in a huge 21.9% of its total income.

Even with these impressive figures, the company made it only to seventh on the global list, beaten by the likes of Samsung, Intel and Alphabet, while Amazon topped the chart with a massive $16.1 billion injected into research – a 28% increase over 2016 and responsible for almost 12% of the firm’s total revenue.

Elsewhere in the global top ten were MSD with $10.1 billion which drew around a quarter of the firm’s income after an increase in investment of 51% over 2016 – far and away the most in the top 20 – and Novartis, which made $9.6 billion with a tiny 0.6% increase in spending.

In the UK, the pharmaceutical industry was far more dominant when it came to R&D spend, with AstraZeneca topping the list with $5.9 billion, followed by GlaxoSmithKline with $4.5 billion – the only pharma companies to make the top ten in the region.

The report also highlights the threat that protectionism economic policy poses to the UK and the US, with 52% of 562 surveyed R&D leaders believing that the Trump Administration’s import and export approaches and the uncertainty of Brexit will have a moderate or significant impact on R&D efforts in the future.

John Potter, a partner in PwC’s consulting arm, said: “To deliver innovation, many of world’s largest companies rely on shifting talent, money, and ideas across borders. If policies in the major global economic powers start to focus more inwardly, however, this would cast uncertainty over companies’ innovation plans and their current models would need to evolve.”

Matt Fellows

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