Scotland’s Booming Pharmaceutical Industry

Photo: Global Manufacturing

Scotland’s Pharma Industry at a Glance

  • Over 5,100 people directly employed by Pharmaceutical Companies in Scotland
  • The industry exports over £462 million worth of manufactured goods
  • Salaries per head are around £15,000 higher than the Scottish average
  • Global companies including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck with facilities in Scotland

Now let’s take a closer look at the pharma industry in Scotland…

Pharma Employment in Scotland

A 2018 report from the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) at the University of Strathclyde showed outlined that the pharmaceutical industry directly employs 5,130 people (full-time equivalent) across Scotland.

This was a 1.6% increase from the year before – continuing the trend of increasing job numbers over recent years (see the table below, taken from the 2017 report).

table showing pharmaceutical employment in scotland from to 2009 to 2015

What’s more, the FAI estimate that for every 100 jobs in the industry, 240 additional jobs are supported indirectly. That’s a further 17,000 Scottish jobs that are indirectly supported by the pharmaceutical industry.

Importantly, these are well-paid jobs.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) reporting on the analysis outlines that the pharmaceutical industry is providing high-value jobs with salaries significantly above the national average.

“Gross wages and salaries per head in the pharmaceutical industry in Scotland are around £15,000 higher than the Scottish average, showing the comparative advantage versus other sectors.”

The FAI report also highlights that these jobs are found all across Scotland, including in smaller towns and rural communities.

In 2017, the report specifically mentioned the proportion of industry jobs in Highland (approximately a quarter) and North Ayrshire (approximately a third). This leads the FAI to assess the industry as a “key contributor to inclusive growth” across the country.

What Pharma Contributes to Scotland’s Economy

The Scottish Government has identified Life Sciences as one of six Growth Sectors. These are sectors where the Government believes the country has a “distinct comparative advantage”.

In 2016, the Scottish Government reported that the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the Life Sciences sector was £1.5 billion. That was 17.7% higher than it had been in 2015. They identified that the sector’s increase was specifically driven by the pharmaceutical industry which had increased 49.3% in that time.

Similarly, when the government considered the GVA increase in manufacturing in 2016, pharmaceutical manufacturing was found to be the primary driver of that increase as well.

chart showing highest and lowest industries for GVA growth in Scotland's manufacturing sector

(Image: Scottish Government)

The 2018 FAI report summarised that:

  • pharmaceutical industry exports contributed £462 million to the Scottish economy
  • the sector supported £2.5 billion worth of industrial output
  • overall, the sector has a GVA worth £1.7 billion

The report also highlights that not only has the absolute GVA of Scotland’s pharmaceutical manufacturing been trending upwards over recent years, Scotland’s percentage share of UK pharmaceutical GVA has also increased significantly.

graph showing Scottish pharmaceutical manufacturing GVA and share of UK GVA

(Image: FAI 2018 report)

Commenting on the report, Alison Culpan, Director of ABPI Scotland said:

“Scotland is internationally renowned for our legacy of scientific excellence, having fostered great scientists and given rise to world-changing breakthroughs. Ours is a sector Scotland can be proud of. Our industry is booming – employing people in highly skilled jobs across the length and breadth of the country.”

Why Pharma Picks Scotland

Check out this video below to see Dave Tudor from GSK outline why they continue to choose Scotland for manufacturing…

Scottish Development International describes Scotland as “a thriving biocluster, providing the ideal environment for innovation and company growth”

They outline…

…a “talented workforce” in medical technologies

…a “history of drug discovery excellence” in pharma services

“world-class MHRA-accredited GMP ATMP manufacturing facilities” in regenerative medicine.

And Scotland continues to work hard to create an environment where the Life Sciences sector can flourish.

This includes the development of Life Sciences Scotland – a group formed by representatives from both Government and Industry. They aim to “develop, drive and deliver the Life Sciences strategy in Scotland. By developing an environment where ingenuity and innovation can create jobs and wealth for Scotland”

In the Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland 2025 Vision, Life Science Scotland outline the specific mission as:

“To increase the Life Sciences industry contribution to the Scottish economy to £8bn by 2025. This will be achieved through the creation of a dynamic and competitive environment with a robust business base capable of attracting key skills, talent and investment.”

Here are the factors that Life Science Scotland identifies as Scotland’s Advantages…

image of eight coloured boxes each containing one of Scotland's key advantages to the pharmaceutical industry

You can check out this link for more information about each of the points above.

What Pharma Does in Scotland

The pharmaceutical industry has a strong history of R&D in Scotland. In fact, it’s the second highest industry in the manufacturing sector, spending almost £120 million on R&D.

chart showing Scottish manufacturing industry investment in R&D

(Image: 2018 FAI report)

And R&D does continue to be a strong focus…

In June 2018, a £56 million investment was announced to create the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) in Renfrewshire. The centre is expected to employ 80 people by 2023 and lead to £80 million in R&D investment by 2028.

But the focus is now also expanding from traditional R&D activities. Life Science Scotland outlines current key subsectors as:

  • Digital healthcare
  • Animal bioscience, aquaculture & agritech
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Industrial biotechnology
  • Medical technologies
  • Pharmaceutical Services

So let’s now take a closer look at the pharmaceutical and medical technology manufacturing that’s happening in Scotland…

Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies in Scotland

Charles River (Tranent)

Provides research services for all stages of drug development. With over 750 employees they are one of the largest private sector employers in East Lothian.

Merck (Irvine & Glasgow)

Merck’s facility at Irvine manufactures liquid media, buffers, and reagents used in the biopharmaceutical industry. They currently employ over 170 people with that number growing at a rate of 20% per annum since 2017.

Their Glasgow facility provides clinical manufacturing of intermediates and final products used in viral vaccines and gene therapy products and in 2018 the company announced the investment of £1 million in the facility.

GSK (Montrose & Irvine)

GSK Montrose is one of only two sites globally producing ingredients for all of the firm’s Ellipta inhalers and currently employs around 600 people following £54 million investment in the facility in 2018.

GSK’s site at Irvine in Ayrshire is an antibiotics manufacturing facility which has also received continual investment – over £70 million since 2013.

Lonza (Livingston)

Employing over 100 people, Lonza’s Capsugel facility is the largest dedicated pharmaceutical liquid and semisolid production in the world, providing product development and manufacture for oral drug delivery.

AMRI (Glasgow)

With a 30,000 sq foot facility, AMRI manufactures sterile injectable drug products and clinical-stage medicines.

LifeScan (Inverness)

Employing over 1,100 people, LifeScan was sold by Johnson & Johnson in 2018 for £1.57 billion to private equity firm Platinum Equity. LifeScan design and manufacture glucose test strips, and design electronic meters for the global diabetes market. The company is Inverness’s largest private-sector employer.

Check out all the latest job vacancies in Scotland on our UK Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Jobs Board!

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