The Australian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry continues to grow

The Australian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry continues to grow

Australia should be proud of its pharmaceuticals manufacturing industry, its a knowledge-based, technology-intensive industry that is arguably essential to continue the development and commercialisation  of Australia’s long term investment in medicines and research.

Australian industry developments have gained worldwide recognition. They include:

  • CSL’s development of a Swine Flu (N1H1) vaccine
  • Developments in discovering the Gardasil vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus through a partnership between Merck Sharp and Dohme and CSL
  • Australian biotechnology company Cytopia’s $274 million deal with Novartis to develop orally active, small molecule therapeutics targeting JAK3 kinase for the prevention of transplant rejection and the treatment of multiple indications in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • The development by Biota Holdings of the flu drug Relenza.
  • Acrux’s US$335 million deal (plus royalties) with Eli Lilly to market Acrux’s US FDA approved Axiron®.


The pharmaceuticals industry comprises bio-medical research, biotechnology firms, originator and generic medicines companies and service related segments including wholesaling and distribution.

The industry employs over 40,000 people, of which 16,465 (2011/12) in manufacturing, close to a 1,000 people more than the year before. This manufacturing sector is in growth and represents the largest exporter of fabricated / manufactured goods in Australia.

Over the last 10 years, this industry has grown from an annual turnover of only $16.1 billion (’03/04) to approximately $23.4 billion in 2012-13 financial year. It spent $1.02 billion on research and development in 2008-09 and exported $3.88 billion in the 2012-13 financial year.

The Australian market for pharmaceuticals is small in the context of global demand. While the PBS allows for universal access to prescription products, the size of the population means that sales are small.Australia’s population represents around 0.3 per cent of the world yet consumes around one per cent of total global pharmaceuticals sales.

Thus in 2009 Australia was the 12th largest pharmaceuticals market by sales, while being ranked 55th on population.

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