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.
Jan 01, 2009
Volume 22, Issue 1

It is a time of change, not only for the finance and automobile markets, but also for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. Even before the downturn in the world economy, drug makers were already facing big challenges, including drug safety, patent expirations, and dwindling pipelines, and had started restructuring and conserving costs. The year 2008 witnessed a constant stream of job cuts in the pharmaceutical sector, including layoffs at Merck (8,400 jobs), Schering-Plough (5,500 jobs), Wyeth (5,000 jobs), UCB Pharma (2,000 jobs), and Abbott (1,000 jobs). There has been a slew of job cuts at small- and medium-sized biotechs as well.

During such times of change, almost everyone, at every level of the biopharmaceutical industry, is asking questions such as, "What is the general outlook for the industry?" or "Will employment opportunities decrease in the future?" and "How will the economic downturn affect me?" Besides charting the current trends in salaries—including the gender gap—in the biopharmaceutical sector, BioPharm International's third annual salary survey explores these questions and more generally, finds out how secure biopharmaceutical professionals are feeling in their jobs.


Chitra Sethi
The salary survey was conducted by BioPharm International's corporate research department in the fall of 2008. The survey was emailed to 24,417 readers around the globe and generated 593 responses. To encourage participation, all subscribers who responded to the survey were entered into a drawing to win one of five $100 gift cards. The maximum statistical error of the survey, at a 95% confidence level, is +4.2%. (Some percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding.)

The vast majority (64%) of survey respondents are from the US. Another 19% are from Europe, 8% are from India, and 5% are from Canada. About half work in publicly traded companies, 37% in privately held firms, 5% in academic institutions, 5% in government, and 2% in nonprofit organizations. About 1% of respondents are self-employed.

Figure 1
A little more than a third (37%) of respondents work in biopharmaceutical manufacturing companies, 15% in small-molecule pharmaceutical companies with a biotech focus, 7% in contract manufacturing, and 7% in research institutes (Figure 1). Most of our respondents work in fairly large companies: 50% work in companies with 1,000 employees or more, and another 10% work in companies employing between 500 and 1,000 people.