IP Explained: By the Numbers: How reliable IP protections promote a strong U.S. economy

Tom Wilbur
Tom Wilbur November 4, 2019


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The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry depends on predictable and reliable intellectual property (IP) protections, including patents, to maintain its role as the global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation. While these strong IP protections promote innovation and pave the way for the research and development (R&D) of new medicines for patients, they also have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy. In fact, last year PhRMA member companies invested a record-setting $79.6 billion in R&D – driving unprecedented advancements to find new treatments and cures for patients.

In addition to these investments, America’s biopharmaceutical industry, backed by strong IP protections, supports high-paying jobs, critical exports and local economies across the country. Between 2000 and 2016, the U.S. biopharmaceutical sector outpaced all other manufacturing industries in economic output growth.

Here is a snapshot of the industry’s significant economic footprint in the United States, by the numbers:

  • $1 trillion. The biopharmaceutical industry supports more than $1 trillion in U.S. economic output annually, including the direct output of the sector, the output of its vendors and suppliers and the economic activity of its workforce.

  • 4 million. Because of its large supply chain – which includes companies in industries ranging from construction to scientific and business services – U.S. biopharmaceutical jobs have a high multiplier effect. As a result, the industry supports more than 4 million jobs across America’s economy.

  • 6 million. A recent study from NDP Analytics finds that intellectual property-intensive manufacturing industries have an outsize positive impact on the economy and support 57.6 million American jobs.

  • $54.7 billion. In 2018, U.S. biopharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing generated $54.7 billion in exports.

  • $43 billion. The overall economic impact of company investments in U.S. clinical trial sites – which includes the ripple effect of expenditures by clinical trial vendors and contractors and spending by industry and vendor employees – totals nearly $43 billion in economic activity in communities throughout the U.S.

It is important to preserve these critical contributions to our nation’s economy. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is willing to invest more than any other industry in R&D because of the strong U.S. IP system. To ensure that this investment continues, we must maintain robust IP protections so that researchers can continue to develop live-saving medicines for patients who need them most. 

A weakening of IP protections would hurt the biopharmaceutical industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy. Learn more about the value of IP protections here.

Topics: Research and Development, Economic Impact, Intellectual Property, IP Explained