PhRMA member companies R&D investments hit record high in 2017 - $71.4 billion

Tim McClung
Tim McClung August 9, 2018


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PhRMA member companies invested $71.4 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2017, the highest level of investment on record, according to the 2018 PhRMA member annual survey, released in conjunction with the 2018 Biopharmaceutical Research Industry Profile.


R&D intensity at PhRMA member companies remains consistently high as well: In 2017, about one out of every five dollars of revenue was devoted to R&D. Additionally, PhRMA member R&D spending represents the majority of the estimated $90 billion spent by the entire U.S. biopharmaceutical industry on R&D in 2016 (latest figure available).

The U.S. biopharmaceutical sector at large accounts for roughly one-sixth of total domestic R&D spending by U.S. businesses, the single largest share of all U.S. business R&D. Over time, this focus on R&D investment has helped spur medical advances for U.S. patients.

The unprecedented advancements in science stemming from these investments have delivered incredible breakthroughs, and more are on the horizon:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 56 novel medicines in 2017, including the first gene therapies, the first medicine for primary progressive multiple sclerosis and the first treatment for sickle cell disease in 20 years.
  • Among potential medicines in clinical development, 74% are potentially first-in-class, meaning they represent an entirely new way of treating a medical condition.
  • There are currently more than 1,100 new medicines and vaccines in development to treat cancer.

The complex R&D enterprise is the foundation for the 4.7 million jobs the biopharmaceutical sector supports throughout the economy, including the 140,000 biopharmaceutical researchers working tirelessly to develop new treatments and cures. Thanks to continued investment in R&D, we are closer every day to discovering the next lifesaving breakthrough.

Topics: Research and Development, Economic Impact