The pharmaceutical industry once again sets a record for investment in R&D in Spain


The sector has registered an investment in research and development of 1,211 million euros in 2019, 5.2% more than the previous year
In these months of health crisis, pharmaceutical companies are being essential to maintain the supply of medicines, as well as to investigate treatments and vaccines that are effective against covid-19. For this sector, investments destined to R&D activities are really important, even more so at a time as critical as this. “This situation has highlighted the value of research,” says Javier Urzay, general deputy director of Farmaindustria.


In this sense, the figures seem to indicate that we are on the right track since, during the last year, Spain allocated a total of 1,211 million euros in R&D, which represents a historical record for the pharmaceutical sector. Thus, the increase in investment during 2019 was 5.2% compared to the previous year, according to the latest Survey on R&D Activities carried out by Farmaindustria among its associates.

“Almost 20% of all industrial R&D carried out in our country is carried out by the pharmaceutical industry. One out of every five euros invested in research in Spain comes from our sector. And this represents almost 8% of all R&D, taking into account public and private research, ”recalls Javier Urzay.

“In Spain, one out of every five euros invested in research comes from the pharmaceutical sector”
The document also highlights that in the last decade, research projects developed in collaboration with hospitals and public and private centers have grown 3.6 percentage points. This expense represents 43.6% of the total investment of pharmaceutical companies and translates to 528 million euros in 2019, while the investment made in the research centers of the companies themselves exceeded 683 million euros.


At the geographical level, all the autonomous communities captured extramural investments by the innovative pharmaceutical industry, with special relevance from Madrid and Catalonia, which accounted for 28% and 25.7% -respectively- of the total investment. In the case of Galicia, this investment was 19.91 million euros. “This important contribution from the industry in health centers not only contributes to their financing but also, and very especially, to the participation of Spanish scientists and health professionals in the scientific avant-garde”, say from Farmaindustria.

Also, with regard to the breakdown of investment in R&D by research phases, the document highlights that almost 60% is concentrated in the clinical phase, where Spain plays a prominent international role.

The report also shows positive data regarding an increasingly qualified job. The direct employment of the companies associated with Farmaindustria in research and development tasks increased by 4.2% in 2019 and reached 5,006 people, which represents a new all-time high. To this data is added the high qualification of the research staff of the pharmaceutical industry, since almost 88% of researchers are university graduates. «This high preparation of our professionals is a differentiating element with respect to the rest of the sectors. A quality job is synonymous with wealth for the countries. And if we add that employment in pharmaceutical companies is, for the most part, indefinite and equal, we have the ideal equation to consider the pharmaceutical industry as a lever for recovery in Spain ”, points out Javier Urzay. “A quality job is synonymous with wealth for the countries” A key sector for the country’s economic recovery The pandemic has highlighted the close relationship between the economy and health and how this sector in general, and the pharmaceutical sector in In particular, they have become strategic for the economic recovery facing Spain. Here, experts agree that health spending should be a policy priority in the coming years. “It is an investment, not a mere expense that we can do without due to budgetary problems,” said Antón Costas, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Barcelona, ??during a digital meeting organized by Farmaindustria last month. For Costas, investment in health is a safe bet and he believes that only in this way would Spain get closer to European figures. «Since the 1980s, the drop in health spending has been related to the decline in the economic fabric. Other leading countries, such as Germany, France or the United States, have a system that enhances health research, therefore promoting the strength of their economic structures. “Health spending is an investment, not a mere expense that we can do without in the face of budgetary problems” Analysts also affirm that biomedical research – due to its impact on health – is going to become one of the axes that go to define the immediate future of society. And the good news, as stated by Farmaindustria, is that Spain is in a privileged position in this field. “Our country is already a benchmark in conducting clinical trials and for some large pharmaceutical companies it is the second country in trials after the United States.” In the end, if this pandemic has served us anything, it is to become aware of how much we depend on science and research. “Now we know with much more certainty that there is no economy without health, there is no health without drugs and there are no drugs without research,” explains the CEO of Farmaindustria, Humberto Arnés. “That there is a sector so committed to innovation is the best guarantee for the future of our country and part of the solution to the deep health, economic and social crisis that we are going through.”


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