PhRMA member companies’ R&D investments reach record high of $102.3 billion in 2021

PhRMA member companies invested $102.3 billion in R&D, the highest level of investment on record, according to the 2022 PhRMA member annual survey.

Tim McClungJuly 18, 2022

PhRMA member companies’ R&D investments reach record high of $102.3 billion in 2021.

PhRMA member companies’ continued investment in research and development (R&D) has led to new medicines transforming human health. Innovative biopharmaceutical approaches to treating patients for a broad range of diseases, including chronic and rare conditions, as well as meeting urgent new health challenges like COVID-19 are making a positive impact.

From new data released today, in 2021 alone, PhRMA member companies invested $102.3 billion in R&D, the highest level of investment on record, according to the 2022 PhRMA member annual survey. The survey also found that in 2021, about one out of every five dollars of revenue was devoted to R&D. Additionally, PhRMA members’ R&D spending accounts for most of the estimated $122.2 billion spent by the entire U.S. biopharmaceutical industry on R&D in 2020.


Over the past two decades, member companies invested a grand total of more than $1.1 trillion in the R&D of new medicines. Furthermore, innovation doesn’t stop upon initial U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. After approval, scientists and physicians continue to generate information on a new medicine or vaccine, as we’re seeing with COVID-19 vaccines and treatments today. This continued R&D can generate further data for approved indications and data used to develop the medicine potentially for new, supplemental indications for unmet medical needs.

Biopharmaceutical companies are at the heart of a robust R&D ecosystem that has led to the development of innovative treatments and cures for patients, with more on the horizon:

  • In 2021 alone, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved 50 new medicines. Additionally, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) approved 10. These novel medicines promise to transform many debilitating diseases, resulting in improved survival, better health outcomes, enhanced quality of life — and in many cases, they provide a first-time treatment option for patients.

  • Continued R&D, even after a medicine has already been approved by the FDA, often results in new uses for a medication, including for treatment earlier in a disease, new formulations that can help make medicines easier to take, for use in different patient populations such as a pediatric population, or for entirely different diseases or conditions. In 2021 alone, several medicines were approved for uses beyond their original FDA approval, including treatments for many different types of cancers, as well as many rare and chronic diseases.

  • Since 2000, nearly 900 new medicines have been approved by the FDA, helping patients live longer, healthier lives. Among the remarkable new treatments reaching patients are the first gene therapies for devastating rare genetic disorders impacting infants and children, curative treatments for hepatitis C, a range of CAR-T cell therapies driving unprecedented remission rates for cancer patients, as well as immunotherapies and targeted therapies widely regarded as driving accelerated drops in cancer mortality for U.S. patients in recent years.

Recent reports have shown a significant amount of R&D devoted to addressing unmet medical needs, including more than 500 medicines in development for disorders of the blood, including blood cancers.

The complex R&D ecosystem is the foundation for the 4.4 million jobs the biopharmaceutical sector supports throughout the U.S. economy, including more than 314,000 researchers and support workers directly employed in R&D establishments working to develop new treatments and cures. Thanks to our member companies’ continued investment in R&D, we are closer every day to developing the next lifesaving medicine to benefit patients.

To read the annual PhRMA member survey, click here.

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