In a period when the media regularly diffuse depressing statistics on the Italian economy, it’s well worth devoting attention to some surprisingly positive figures.
The Italian pharmaceutical industry is second in Europe for production volume (both in absolute and per capita terms), and the first in the world for exports: 70% of Italy’s production is exported. This is some of the basic data synthesised in a Farmindustria analysis of October 2014, which also tells us that the sector includes 200 companies, 174 factories and roughly 62,000 employees, which together produce a turnover worth 28 billion euros, of which 71% from exports.
Although the pharmaceutical industry is indeed affected by the repercussions of the crisis and has had to reduce its workforce, data from the ISTAT statistical institute and the Bank of Italy demonstrates that it remains the number one Italian manufacturing sector. This status is in part explained by the dynamism inherent in this field, but it is also crucially sustained by continuous and consistent R&D investment.
Roughly 10% of sector personnel – 6,000 people, of which 53% are women – work in R&D and can count on major investment funds: €1.2 billion in 2013.
And even though it is true that the pharmaceutical sector could not survive without R&D, it’s worth remembering that 90% of pharmaceutical research in Italy is funded by pharmaceutical companies. In terms of R&D, the pharmaceutical sector accounts for 11% of total manufacturing investments and 7% of total industrial research personnel. Plus it is the sector with the highest percentage of companies performing innovative activities (81%)… a statistic that places Italy second in Europe again, behind Germany.
To this picture of the situation we should add another: that of the Italian Biotech sector, which has consolidated itself as a significant reality. It consists of a growing number of specialised SMEs and pharmaceutical companies orientated towards biotechnologies. In total it includes 176 companies, containing 7,100 research personnel, and it invests 18% of its turnover in R&D: vastly superior to the national average of industrial manufacturers, which remains in the doldrums at just 1%.
In conclusion, we should remember that the period between 2008 and 2013 saw Italy’s GDP fall by 7%, while pharmaceutical production rose by 2%. In the same period, the pharma sector improved its productivity rate by 4% per annum, the highest rate of any economic sector.
Investing courageously in innovation is confirmed as the only way for creating new or better products and services, and the best way to deal with the current global market situation.