Medical Biotechnology - United Nations University

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Medical Biotechnology - United Nations University

INTRODUCTION 3

to employ about 190,000 people in publicly traded firms. These are

impressive results given that, in 1992, bio-industries were estimated to

have generated US$8.1 billion and employed fewer than 100,000 persons.

The main beneficiaries of the current ‘‘biotechnology revolution’’ and

the resulting bio-industries are largely the industrialized and technologically

advanced countries, i.e. those that enjoy a large investment of

their domestic product in R&D and technological innovation. Thus, the

United States, Canada and Europe account for about 97 per cent of the

global biotechnology revenues, 96 per cent of persons employed in biotechnology

ventures and 88 per cent of all biotechnology firms. Ensuring

that those who need biotechnology have access to it therefore remains

a major challenge. Similarly, creating an environment conducive to the

acquisition, adaptation and diffusion of biotechnology in developing

countries is another great challenge. However, a number of developing

countries are increasingly using biotechnology and have created a successful

bio-industry, at the same time increasing their investments in

R&D in the life sciences.

According to the Frost & Sullivan Chemicals Group in the United

Kingdom, some 4,300 biotechnology companies were active globally in

2003: 1,850 (43 per cent) in North America; 1,875 (43 per cent) in Europe;

380 (9 per cent) in Asia; and 200 (5 per cent) in Australia. These

companies cover the gamut from pure R&D participants to integrated

manufacturers to contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). The

United States has the largest number of registered biotechnology companies

in the world (318), followed by Europe (102). In 2002, the annual

turnover of these companies was US$33.0 billion in the United States

and only US$12.8 billion in Europe. Some US$20.5 billion was allocated

to research in the United States, compared with US$7.6 billion in Europe

(Adhikari, 2004).

US biotechnology and bio-industry

The consultancy firm Ernst & Young distinguishes between US companies

that produce medicines and the others. The former include pioneers

such as Amgen, Inc., Genentech, Inc., Genzyme Corporation, Chiron

Corporation and Biogen, Inc. The annual turnover of these five companies

represents one-third of the sector’s total (US$11.6 billion out of

US$33.0 billion); in addition, their product portfolio enables them to

compete with the big pharmaceutical groups in terms of turnover and

stock value. For instance, Amgen, with US$75 billion market capitalization,

is more important than Eli Lilly & Co., and Genentech’s market

capitalization is twice that of Bayer AG (Mamou, 2004e).

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