Buckle-Up Biopharma - BioPharm International's third annual salary survey finds out if the turbulent economic climate is taking its toll on the biopharmaceutical sector. - BioPharm International


Buckle-Up Biopharma
BioPharm International's third annual salary survey finds out if the turbulent economic climate is taking its toll on the biopharmaceutical sector.

BioPharm International
Volume 22, Issue 1


Despite the current economic scenario, biopharmceutical professionals continue to earn good salaries. "The pay is excellent in the biopharmaceutical sector when you get into specialized skills," says Stephan Krause, director of quality at MPex Pharmaceuticals and a member of BioPharm's Editorial Advisory Board, who started this new job only a month ago after leaving a small biotech that went under. "With the number of unemployed people in the job market, your negotiating power during a job interview might be less, but the salaries haven't gone down," he says.

Figure 2
As shown in Figure 2, the mean industry salary is $89,760 in the United States, and €62,721 (approximately $85,927, converted at an average exchange rate over 2008 of €1=$1.37) in Europe. In the US, 37% of respondents earn more than $100,000 and 23% earn between $75,000 and $100,000. The salary breakdown among European respondents was similar: 39% earn more than €70,000 ($95,900) and 23% earn between €50,000 and €70,000 ($68,500 to $95,900).

Figure 3
Like last year, this year's survey showed that the US biotech jobs with the highest salaries included corporate management, information technology, legal, and plant engineering (Figure 3). And job opportunities are relatively good in the biopharmaceutical sector, especially at the higher levels, says Krause. In particular, he sees a lot of opportunity in the areas of quality and regulatory affairs. "Those two areas are going to be in great demand because regulations are becoming more complex with lot of outsourcing now being done in development," he says.


With the monoclonal antibodies market projected to grow to $12 billion by 2010, industry experts think that job opportunities will continue to rise in the coming years even if opportunities in the traditional pharmaceutical sector don't keep pace. "The biopharmaceutical sector has more opportunities compared to small-molecule companies," says a senior professional employed at a large pharmaceutical company. "It is simple mathematics—just compare the number of small-molecule drugs to large-molecule drugs in the pipeline."

A closer look at the list of job cuts by big companies this year shows that it's mainly Big Pharma, not the big biotech companies, that have downsized this year. Most experts, however, believe this is unrelated to the slow economy, seeing the causes in the industry itself, in such as drug failures, drug safety concerns, and dwindling pipelines. With many blockbuster drugs lined up to come off patent in 2010, Big Pharma is stepping up efforts to save costs and invest in large-molecule drugs.

Of course, the biotechnology industry is not immune to the economic downturn. Small biotech companies, which depend on investors for cash, are struggling to get funding amid the credit crisis. These companies are rapidly restructuring as a result of the negative capital markets, says Steven Burrill in his column ("Burrill on Biotech" p. 26). "Staff is being reduced and many R&D programs have been put in the refrigerator until better times prevail."

For the most part, however, large biotechs have been able to withstand the financial market's meltdown so far. "It could be because the big biotechs' financial strength is tied more to their product portfolio than the stock market," says a senior process development manager, who has worked with small and large biotech companies during his 15-year career.

Recruiters have also seen fairly consistent activity in the biotech sector. "The larger biotech companies that we work with are still hiring," confirms Pete Ferguson, president of health and life sciences for Yoh, a recruitment company that provides contract employees to the pharmaceutical sector.

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