Big pharma spent $112 billion on R&D in 2013

The top 30 pharma companies spent a combined total of $112 billion on research and development last year.

Calculated to be $723 million more than the 2012 outlay, this was said to be due to advances in pharma companies’ pipeline programmes and later-stage clinical trials.

The report by research firm GlobalData found that the Swiss giant Roche was the spending leader for 2013, with outgoings that totalled almost $10 billion.

“Roche’s R&D spending was bolstered by continued investments in its oncology and neuroscience therapeutic areas, such as the company’s investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody targeting lung cancer, and the advancement of its programmes for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Adam Dion, an industry analyst at GlobalData.

Novartis’ R&D spending also grew a great deal due to its Alcon subsidiary, which allocated additional resources to develop new eye care products. The company likewise invested heavily to bring to market its meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero (meningococcal B).

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson increased its R&D spend by adding around $500 million to its budget. The US pharma company shelled out $8.2 billion between 2012 and 2013, an overall increase of up 6.8 per cent.

A lack of spending

Despite an apparant hefty increase in R&D outlay, a number of large pharma firms also hauled back on clinical investment in 2013, according to the findings.

“In efforts to improve profit margins, cost-cutting still remains a strategic necessity for some players. Many companies reduced their workforces to help stabilise profits in the aftermath of patent losses,” says Dion.

Bucking the spend trend was Pfizer that forked out $1.2 billion less on R&D in 2013, after the US firm also lost market exclusivity on its Caduet (atorvastatin/amlodipine) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) treatments.

The latter drug saw revenue drop to just $543 million for the second quarter of 2014 – a far cry from the $13 billion a year it was bringing in at its peak.

Meanwhile Merck continued with its restructuring programme by cutting over $600 million from its clinical operations in 2013, after its respiratory therapySingulair (montelukast sodium) lost patent protection.

Tom Robinson

Big pharma spent $112 billion on R&D in 2013

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