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US bioscience jobs avoid pharma's decade-long decline

Trade body the BIO says nearly 100,000 extra positions added in biosciences over the last ten years

Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Industry Development

Employment levels in the US drugs and pharmaceuticals sector declined 3.1 per cent (9,400 jobs) over the last decade, according to a new report co-published by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

This contrasted sharply with the bioscience industry's trade body's findings that almost 100,000 jobs were added in the US bioscience industry overall during the same period.

The Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Industry Development report puts net job growth in the biosciences sector at 6.4 per cent (96,000) in the ten years to 2010, compared to a net decrease of 2.9 per cent (3m) across all private sector industries in the US, with aerospace and IT both seeing declines.

However, this overall industry growth wasn't reflected in the drugs and pharma biosciences sub-sector, which recorded the loss of 22,000 jobs between 2007 and 2010. This fall countered previous consistent growth of 4.2 per cent (13,000 jobs) from 2001 to 2007.

The drastic drop was put down to competitive challenges posed by the rise of generics, the slow pace of regulatory approval for new drugs and biopharmaceuticals, and the number and speed of mergers and acquisitions.

Employment Trends in the Biosciences and Other Leading Knowledge-based Industries - 2001–10
(taken from Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Industry Development)

Employment Trends in the Biosciences and Other Leading Knowledge-based Industries - 2001–10

The biosciences sub-sector that fared best was research, testing and laboratories, which made up 87,000 of the total bioscience jobs gained.

According to the report the growth of this sub-sector was down to the importance of commercial research and development, and reflected the outsourcing of many research and testing services previously done in-house by major biopharmaceutical companies, as well as the rise of molecular diagnostic testing.

“The bioscience industry is still resilient, even through these difficult economic times,” said Mitch Horowitz, VP and managing director of Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice.

“Looking to the future, the bioscience industry stands out amongst other markets and serves human health, agriculture, biofuels and other industrial applications.”

This view of biosciences as integral to the US economy was backed by BIO president and CEO Jim Greenwood, although he said changes were necessary to support the industry.

"In order to help drive economic growth, and continue to help feed, fuel and heal the world, we need public policies that encourage investments in biotech innovation and a more transparent, science-based regulatory environment."

• The full report is available from the BIO

21st June 2012

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