Lab technician filling test tubes

Pharma industry records growth in employment, export and productivity

A new report released by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute has revealed continued growth in a number of areas in at least part of the UK’s pharmaceutical sector, focusing in on the industry’s progress in Scotland.

Worth an estimated £1.8bn, Scotland’s pharmaceutical industry has seen an increase in employment, exports and research investment since the last major review in 2017.

Pharmaceutical companies employ some 5,600 people directly across Scotland, predominantly in North Ayrshire, the Highlands and Dundee. This marked a 9% increase on reports from 2018.

These companies help serve as major employers, placing high-value jobs in towns and rural communities - including among some of the most deprived areas of Scotland - as well as positively impacting on the wider economy.

According to the report, every 10 jobs in the sector were responsible for creating 17 elsewhere in the country. This was higher than a number of other common manufacturing industries seen in similar places across Scotland.

The industry also reported exports of £575m worth of manufactured goods, up £25m from the 2017 report, as well as £2.5bn worth of industrial output every year.

Scotland’s flourishing life sciences ecosystem also continues to be an attractive destination for cutting-edge research and development, with multi-million-pound investments by global pharmaceutical companies helping usher in a new golden age of Scottish medical science.

Alison Culpan, Director of ABPI Scotland, said: “In a year that has seen our companies stepping up and starting to lead us out of the pandemic with the vital vaccines we need, I am proud that the pharmaceutical industry continues to thrive in Scotland.

“Scotland’s industry is stronger today than it was three years ago with more people employed in good jobs, more being spent on research and development, and exports topping half a billion pounds.

“It is important that the Scottish Government is ambitious and works with us to nurture and promote a sector which is not only exporting Scottish excellence around the world but delivering for the health of people here in Scotland.”

Deputy Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, Mairi Spowage added: “Our economic analysis shows that the industry continues to grow in Scotland with direct employment, exports and GVA increasing.

“The contribution of the sector extends beyond the activities of pharmaceutical companies themselves, with their output supporting employment and income right across the country including areas of historically high unemployment and deprivation.”

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