Greener Pastures in Biologics?

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BioPharm International, BioPharm International-12-01-2015, Volume 28, Issue 12

Biopharma employees in different market segments note subtle differences in job satisfaction.

The large molecule segment of the biopharmaceutical market has been receiving more media and investment attention recently, creating a perception that there may be more opportunities for skilled workers in the biologics segment.

A session at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in October-How to Survive the Paradigm Shift of the Pharmaceutical Industry: From Small Molecules to Biologics-featured presentations and an audience discussion about the potential and pitfalls for scientists to migrate from positions in the small-molecule segment of pharmaceutical development to positions in the biologics field. The discussion centered around the challenges of making such a switch and the positions most suitable for a transition.

How do these perceptions translate to the job market? In the 2015 BioPharm International employment survey (1) the editors sampled opinions about the current job market and job satisfaction for workers in the biopharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical Technology, a sister publication to BioPharm International, conducted a similar survey (2) measuring opinions of employees developing and manufacturing both small-molecule and large-molecule therapies. A comparison of professionals working in the small-molecule drug segment from the Pharmaceutical Technology survey with those responding to the biologics-focused BioPharm International survey, showed job and salary satisfaction between the two audiences is similar.

Respondents from the small-molecule segment survey reported longer work experience in the bio/pharma industry; 72% reported more than 10 years of experience compared to 63.1% for large-molecule segment workers. The majority of workers in both segments are contracted to work 40 hours per week. More biologics-segment workers (14.8%) said they worked fewer hours in 2015 than they did two years ago, compared to the small-molecule segment (11.4%); however, a higher percentage of workers in the biologics segment (20.3%) feel more secure in their position than the small-molecule audience of the Pharmaceutical Technology survey (15.8%).

On compensation, the small-molecule segment respondents were slightly more satisfied than their counterparts in the biologics segment. Nearly 40% of the small-molecule workers said they were paid fairly, compared to 38% on the large-molecule segment. More than 20% of the biologics segment respondents-compared to 16.5% of the small-molecule segment-said they were paid below market value considering their level of expertise and responsibility. 

In general, workers in both segments agreed that their work is valued by their employers, they feel secure in their positions, they do not face discrimination at work, and have opportunities for advancement. The biologics segment workers, however, were slightly less positive in responses about using their skills and training the fullest extent and saw fewer opportunities to engage in professional development.


Workers in the two market segments had similar opinions about changing jobs; 20.4% of the biologics-segment workers said they would like to leave their job, if given the opportunity, compared to 19.9% of the small-molecule workers. Almost one-third of the biologics workers said do not expect to leave their job in the coming year compared to 37.7% of small-molecule workers. 

1. BioPharm International 2015 Employment Survey.
2. Pharmaceutical Technology/Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 2015 Employment Survey.

Article DetailsBioPharm International
Vol. 28, No. 12
Page: 6

Citation: When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Peters, “Greener Pastures in Biologics?" BioPharm International 28 (12) 2015.