As someone who grew up around the biopharmaceutical industry and knows firsthand the impact that it has on local communities, I’m frequently reminded of our members’ far-reaching impact in my role as liaison between PhRMA and the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association. PILMA, a coalition of labor organizations and pharmaceutical companies, has made great strides in its dedication to driving economic growth while promoting our industry’s foremost priority of developing innovative treatments that combat diseases.
In essence, the partnership fosters investment in the skilled crafts trades in order to build and maintain the state-of-the-art facilities essential for the research and manufacturing of cutting-edge pharmaceutical treatments and cures. Without partnerships such as PILMA and the investment that America’s Building Construction Trades dedicates to its members, we simply would not be able to achieve our industry’s broader mission of making continuous innovation possible:
- America’s Building Trades Unions are essential partners of our industry and invest nearly $1B in training and development of their members every year. In California alone, these organizations spend approximately $100 million on apprenticeship and training.
- It’s worth noting that none of this money comes from taxpayers, but is all private investment from union members and contractors. Taken together, the 1,600 training facilities in the United States are the equivalent of the nation’s fourth largest community college.
- At a time when America’s students are struggling with college debt, these apprentices ‘earn while they learn,’ putting in 40 hours of on-the-job training, which is free for them and they owe nothing except the promise of maintaining a standard of excellence after they get out. In fact, in many locations, nearly 25% of the apprentices have four-year degrees – they have come for career training they could not get with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
- This training plays a major role in helping our industry to directly and indirectly support 3.2 million U.S. jobs.
- In addition to our shared economic achievements, skilled labor is a critical voice in advocating for the types of public policies that directly help patients. From protecting Medicare Part D to promoting IP in pending trade deals to ensuring ongoing access to high quality health care in insurance coverage plans, our partners through PILMA are helping to promote policy positions that directly help patients.
As an industry, we’re also working with our skilled labor partners in the R&D process. Developing a drug requires significant resources and often results in frequent setbacks or downright failure, so R&D is a particularly important aspect of our partnership.
For our member companies, maximizing chances of success to deliver innovative medicines to patients who rely on them often requires the regular overhaul of highly complex R&D facilities. One mistake in the design or construction of a laboratory or manufacturing facility can directly and negatively impact the drug development process. The ability to partner with skilled labor is a prerequisite to our industry putting its best foot forward every day. It helps us listen better, innovate faster and maintain a collective (and constant) focus on what’s in the best interest of the patient.
For many of our labor partners, it’s a lifelong relationship that starts with training to work on our facilities, leads to purchasing our products to maintain individual health and helps ensure retirement by the investments in our companies.
We couldn’t be more excited about continuing to advance these initiatives in 2015 and beyond. We’re particularly looking forward to your ideas and feedback as we help patients, advocate for public policies on their behalf, contribute to our economy and drive a solutions-based conversation together.