Massachusetts biotech companies thrive during pandemic, report says

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Massachusetts’ biotech industry appears to be thriving, despite falling national stocks and the ongoing COVID pandemic.

A report by industry group MassBio found that more than 106,000 people were working in pharmaceutical companies and life science research institutes in 2021, up 13% from the previous year. The industry continued to create jobs in research, development and manufacturing, even as some companies laid off workers.

Massachusetts biotech workers earn an average of $201,549 a year, according to the report.

MassBio chief executive Joe Boncore said the biotech cluster – backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in public investment – ​​is now mature enough to weather the ups and downs.

“The investment that government has made, that industry has made here over the past 15 years, has put Massachusetts in a position where we are truly able to weather the storm better than most ecosystems,” said he declared.

The largest biotech and pharmaceutical employers in the state are Takeda, Sanofi, Pfizer, Novartis, Vertex, Biogen, and Moderna.

Venture capitalists poured $13.7 billion into local biotech companies last year and $5.1 billion in the first half of 2022. The largest share of research and development programs receiving funding in venture capital – 36% – focused on cancer treatment.

“Because of the record amounts of venture capital and general investment money in this industry, this industry has been able to do so much more,” Boncore said.

He said the pandemic has raised the profile of the industry by showing how quickly companies can produce lifesaving vaccines and treatments.

Pharmaceutical companies have been criticized for the high costs of their products. Boncore said policies that cap prescription drug prices could stifle innovation and hurt local biotech companies.

But so far, according to MassBio’s own figures, public policies targeting drug costs do not appear to be slowing industry growth.

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