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The United States: global leaders in biopharmaceutical manufacturing

Annabel Nangle our consultant managing the role
Published on 25 August 2020

The biopharmaceutical industry is committed to ensuring that not just Americans have access to the medicines they need but also people from all around the world. The result of this is that companies make sure the manufacturing of medicines remains as uninterrupted, which enables the supply to meet the current demands in the market.

Unfortunately for the United States, there seems to be many misleading stories around that dismiss America’s leadership in biopharmaceutical manufacturing which suggest that reliance on other countries has put the country at risk of having potential shortages. When the reality is that a large amount of manufacturing happens on the United States home soil, supporting 120,000 manufacturing jobs across its states, which range through the life cycle of each project, including CQV jobs, Pharmacovigilance jobs and Quality jobs. 

Growth within the industry

The biopharmaceutical industry has a solid and growing presence in the United States with a particularly strong focus on manufacturing. There is a large supply chain within the biopharmaceutical industry and it supports more than 4 million jobs across the United States directly employing more than 811,000 Americans. Over 13% of those jobs are categorised as high-wage manufacturing jobs, which means they sit at almost double that of the private sector. Wages for manufacturing jobs within biopharmaceutical were 72% greater than the average wage for the whole entirety of U.S. manufacturing jobs. There are over 1,300 biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities across the United States that hold these jobs, leading to support for national and local economies.

Investments in biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are continuing to grow. The past two years biopharmaceutical companies have announced plans to invest more than $27 billion in the United States, including new manufacturing plants. Between 2000 and 2016, biopharmaceuticals outpaced all other manufacturing sectors in U.S. economic output growth. This only supports the fact that the United States is at the forefront of leadership in biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

How can biopharmaceutical manufacturing have stability?

Ensuring the stability of the manufacturing supply chain is to be geographically diverse, which includes having a heavy presence in the United States. Overlooking the sheer amount of manufacturing that happens within the United States and the impact this has on the economy would be foolish. Especially with discussions about increasing the manufacturing industries are in the works. Although this would bring more support to the economy it can’t be forgotten that the States already sustains a substantial manufacturing presence that is part of a larger global network. Taking the majority of biopharmaceutical manufacturing to the United States couldn’t happen without disrupting the entire biopharmaceutical supply chain all over the world.

There are a few strategies often discussed within the industries but one of these is to maintain a stable and fully working geographically diverse supply chain. Geographic diversity is key to the stability of a manufacturing supply chain for medicine. Often this is overlooked and in times such as COVID-19, this is a crucial element that allows flexibility for companies when they need it most. For example, if one small area had a whole pharmaceutical supply chain dependent on it and there was an issue such as a pandemic or natural disaster this could lead to significant disruptions to supply chain with global implications. There have been some key examples of this happening. Hurricane Maria in 2017, approximately 50 pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities were in Puerto Rico at the time of the hurricane, and their capacity was impacted by the disaster. Because of robust supply chains and close coordination with the FDA, the industry was quickly able to shift manufacturing to facilities in other areas and prevent long-term drug shortages.

This leaves the need for biopharmaceutical companies to be able to make adjustments in the sourcing of their materials and be able to shift manufacturing to different facilities if any emergency might happen. Building a new facility is often not the most viable option especially during an emergency. Companies need to take into account the locations of each facility and have extensive measures in place to manage all the various elements of the manufacturing process and including access to skilled workers and specialised materials that might be needed. Finding skilled workers can sometimes be a struggle especially if locations are more remote, which is why specialist recruiters can have a huge part to play in placing these positions.

2020 has bought many unpredicted times and the concerns regarding the continuity of the pharmaceutical supply chain and a desire for the U.S. to not be reliant on any countries that might pose a national security risk when it comes to pharmaceutical manufacturing. The discussions about ways to increase manufacturing in the United States are extremely important for growing jobs and the economy but the importance of geographic diversity in the supply chain to make sure it remains uninterrupted to be able to supply the medicines people need.

How can Quanta continue to support the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry?

Quanta’s life sciences team have been placing candidates in American for over 10 years. Contributing to both the local economy but also the international economy by accepting jobs from all over the world and providing skilled workers. Take a look at our latest Life Sciences jobs.