In Massachusetts the latest biopharma employment numbers, published in September, showed a 3.9% increase in jobs in 2010. More importantly it demonstrated a resumption of industry job growth following a flat 2009.
According to MassBio, the life science industry group for Massachusetts, biopharma employment in the Bay State rose to 48,657 jobs from 46,826 in 2009. Fifty five percent of Massachusetts’ biopharma jobs, or 26,807 jobs, have an R&D focus, highest of 11 peer states studied by MassBio. R&D employment in Massachusetts rose 9% over 2009’s 24,565 jobs. The state’s second largest share of jobs, at nearly 20%, is in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Jobs in this segment slid 2% to 9,514 jobs, making it the third lowest of the 11 peer states.
Peter Abair, MassBio’s director of economic development, told GEN the state saw continued R&D job growth by both industry and academia, while the dip in biomanufacturing jobs reflected, in part, cutbacks by two big pharma employers: Pfizer, which announced plans in May 2010 to cut 300 jobs over five years from a former Wyeth plant in Andover, MA; and AstraZeneca, which in late 2009 began eliminating 113 jobs, 10% of its workforce, in a Westborough, MA, plant. Last May, AstraZeneca announced plans to lay off another 135 employees from the same facility.
Biomanufacturing employment is expected to increase over the coming year as new plants come fully online in Massachusetts. Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to ramp up its biologics plant in Devens where 350 people will work, while Genzyme expects to win FDA approval for a new plant in Framingham during Q1 2012. Genzyme parent Sanofi earlier this month announced a restructuring that will consolidate U.S. drug discovery and early R&D activity in Massachusetts, a move that should boost its current state workforce of about 5,000.
Sanofi/Genzyme was the state’s leading biopharma employer last year according to MassBio, (when it recorded 4,356 employees), followed by Pfizer (2,600), Biogen Idec (2,300), and Novartis (2,100). AstraZeneca finished 2010 with 900 workers, placing 12th. Since then, all five have either laid off or announced plans to idle employees.
The state’s reliance on big pharma is less a challenge for growing biopharma, Abair said, than remaining life sci friendly: “I think the biggest vulnerability would be should there be a dramatic public policy change, for example, that affects the industry in such a way that investment in R&D is curtailed. That really is the strength of this industry in Massachusetts.”
During 2010, Massachusetts benefited from ARRA, which brought $1.1 billion to the life science segment in Massachusetts. And the state has showered pharma and biotech companies with its own tax breaks and other incentives: In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) enacted the $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative. It included $500 million in borrowed capital spending, $250 million in research grants, and $250 million in tax incentives.