Big Pharma Industry Shrinks While Biotech Booms

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Big pharma employment dropped by 3% between 2003 and 2013, according to a new jobs report published by EP Vantage.

A new jobs report published by EP Vantage revealed that big pharma employment dropped by 3% between 2003 and 2013, relieving fears that industry consolidation and restructuring would lead to significantly reduced headcounts and payrolls.

The new report shows that when it comes to pharmaceutical industry jobs, big biotech and specialty drugmakers are growing in significance, more than offsetting the loss of jobs in big pharma.

Headcount more than doubled over the last decade at companies with market capitalizations of more than $30 billion, but who are not traditionally considered big pharma. Some of those gains were the result of acquisitions, such as Valeant, but groups like Novo Nordisk, Gilead Sciences, and Regeneron have seen their staff double, triple, or even quadruple based primarily on organic growth, the report finds.

“Large drug makers like Gilead are now not only outperforming big pharma, but are outhiring it,” said Lisa Urquhart, EP Vantage editor. “With the focus still on cost-cutting in big pharma, if you want a long-term career in the industry you might be better off with a smaller player.”


The report also found: Novartis is the biggest employer in the pharma sector, with a workforce of more than 135,000 people; Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer topped the industry in terms of shrinking headcount, each firing 36% of their employees; and the biggest hirer of 2013 in percentage terms was Pharmacyclics, which more than doubled its headcount to 484 to support the launch of cancer drug Imbruvica.

Source: EP Vantage