U.S. biopharmaceutical exports support jobs, innovation

U.S. exports of pharmaceutical preparations exceeded $90 billion in 2022 – an increase of $7 billion over the previous year.

Brian PiconeMarch 20, 2023

U.S. biopharmaceutical exports support jobs, innovation.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently published annual trade data indicating that U.S. exports of goods exceeded $2 trillion in 2022. According to the report, U.S. exports of pharmaceutical preparations exceeded $90 billion in 2022 — an increase of $7 billion over the previous year. Recent PhRMA comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission highlight that U.S. biopharmaceutical exports support high-wage manufacturing jobs, innovation and investment across the U.S. economy — demonstrating the need for strong U.S. trade policies that expand market access, protect American intellectual property (IP) rights and address unfair trade barriers abroad.

  • Exports. The biopharmaceutical industry is among the most export-intensive in America and was the largest exporter of goods among the most R&D-intensive industries in 2020 — which in addition to biopharmaceuticals includes navigational equipment, semiconductors and other electronic components, medical equipment and supplies, and communications equipment.1 U.S. biopharmaceutical exports have shown remarkable growth in recent years, but continue to face significant barriers in foreign markets.

  • Employment. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is among the top five employers of U.S. manufacturing jobs, with more Americans directly employed in biopharmaceutical manufacturing than in manufacturing in several other manufacturing industries, including each of the following: iron and steel products, aerospace products and parts, petroleum and coal products, and electric equipment and appliances. In 2020, the industry directly employed more than 900,000 U.S. workers, of which 37% were engaged in manufacturing, nearly 35% were engaged in biopharmaceutical R&D, 25% were engaged in distribution and 3% were engaged in corporate administration.

  • Foreign direct investment. The biopharmaceutical industry attracts more new foreign direct investment into the U.S. than any other industry (over $143 billion over the past five years). In turn, the industry is by far the largest driver of new foreign direct investment in U.S. manufacturing, accounting for more than 20% over the past five years.

  • Innovation. The biopharmaceutical industry is one of the most research-intensive in America, annually investing an estimated $122.2 billion in researching and developing new medicines. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is the world leader in medical research — producing more than half the world’s new molecules in the last decade.

  • Output. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is a major economic driver, contributing more than $1.4 trillion in economic output on an annual basis when direct, indirect and induced effects are considered. Through its research, production and overall operations, value added from the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry directly contributes 1.6% of U.S. GDP.

The biopharmaceutical industry’s large U.S. economic footprint, and the corresponding benefits that accrue to U.S. workers and their families, exist precisely because the industry is an active participant in the rules-based international trading system. The biopharmaceutical industry utilizes longstanding, consistent and dependable U.S. trade policies that value innovation, protect IP rights and champion open trade.  

To ensure that the United States remains the global leader in biopharmaceutical innovation and production, the U.S. government should enforce existing trade rules and pursue ambitious new trade agreements with strong IP protections, predictable and transparent market access commitments, and other provisions that dismantle unfair trade barriers.


1. Analysis of National Science Foundation and Business Research and Development Survey (BRDIS) data by ndp | analytics. 

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