Scotland urged to seize potential of growth in pharma

Scotland has been urged to capitalise on the potential for the pharmaceutical sector to make a greater contribution to the economy as figures released today revealed it is now worth £2.7 billion a year to the country.

The industry is worth nearly £3bn. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
The industry is worth nearly £3bn. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Latest research by the Fraser of Allander Institute also found that growth in the sector north of the Border means it is accounting for a rising proportion of the wider drugs industry in the UK in terms of turnover and employment.

The report calculated that pharmaceuticals employs 5,043 people in Scotland and indirectly supports 16,482 jobs elsewhere in its economy.

The head of the pharma sector’s trade body in Scotland said that, in the context of Brexit looming, the figures highlighted the importance of the Scottish Government being “ambitious” to ensure the industry continues to thrive.

Alison Culpan, director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Scotland, said the findings showed the industry can be a “driving force” behind long-term sustainable economic growth.

Culpan said: “As we navigate the challenges of leaving the EU, it’s more important than ever for the Scottish Government to be ambitious, working in collaboration with us, our members and the wider life sciences community to secure an environment for our industry to flourish, ultimately reaping rewards for patients and our economy.”

The report’s launch came alongside the unveiling yesterday of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy which highlighted a major role for the life sciences sector.

Two major investment deals by overseas firms in the UK were announced on the back of the strategy, with US business MSD creating 950 jobs at a research centre in London and Germany’s Qiagen expanding its existing investment in a genomics and ­diagnostics campus in ­Manchester.

The Fraser of Allander’s report said that Scotland’s drugs sector had seen the biggest jobs expansion of any of the Scottish Government’s identified growth industries in recent years.

It said that employment in pharmaceuticals was often in parts of Scotland where job prospects are weaker than for the country as a whole, such as North Ayrshire.

The average productivity of a Scottish pharmaceutical industry employee in 2015, expressed as gross value added (GVA), is also £112,364 – more than double the Scottish average (£49,708).

Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said the report found there were “significant opportunities for Scotland in the years ahead to build on recent successes”.

The industry in Scotland represents 4.3 per cent of all UK pharmaceutical industry sales, an increase of nearly a third since 2008, and supports more than 9 per cent of total UK jobs, up from more than 
5 per cent in 2008.