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R&D expenditure per employee in U.S. sectors 2003-2017

Between 2003 and 2017, annual research and development (R&D) investment by pharmaceutical companies in the United States averaged 195,907 U.S. dollars per employee. The average R&D expenditure for all manufacturing industries during this time was roughly 15 thousand U.S. dollars per employee, which was 13 times less than the pharmaceutical industry.

What is the relationship between R&D investment and sales?

The pharmaceutical industry is also one of the biggest investors in R&D in relation to sales, with companies spending around 20 percent of their revenue on R&D activities. In 2019, members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade group generated approximately 377 billion U.S. dollars in worldwide revenues and spent around 83 billion U.S. dollars on R&D.

Pharmaceutical companies: A focus on Pfizer

Pfizer is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies worldwide and has a brand value of approximately 4.8 billion U.S. dollars. The company, which manufactures the brand name prescription drug Viagra, has spent an average of eight billion U.S. dollars per year on R&D since 2014. Pfizer employed approximately 88,000 people worldwide in 2019, which means the company’s R&D investment per employee was around 98,000 U.S. dollars for the year.

Pharmaceutical R&D expenditure per employee compared to other U.S. manufacturing sectors 2003-2017

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Release date

December 2020


United States

Survey time period

2003 to 2017

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Statistics on "U.S. pharmaceutical industry"

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