The economic contribution of the pharmaceutical sector in Scotland

The pharmaceutical sector is a major high-technology contributor to the Scottish economy.

The sector encompasses a wide range of activities from internationally leading research and development, through to manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and ultimately to sales, marketing and industry leadership.

It has been identified by the Scottish Government as an important contributor to the life sciences Growth Sector. Growth Sectors are areas of the economy where the government believes that Scotland has a distinct international comparative advantage.

 We assess the contribution of the sector to the Scottish economy, including not just the direct impact of the sector’s own activities but the wider spill-overs across Scotland’s business base. In doing so, we trace the connections between the sector and other Scottish industries. Given the increasing focus of economic policy in Scotland on innovation and technology we also provide a summary of the sector’s research and development activities.

Key Findings

The sector:

  • Directly supports around 5,050 full time equivalent (FTE) Scottish jobs;
  • Supports a total of 16,500 FTE jobs in Scotland once wider spill-over factors are taken into account.
  • Supports a total of £2.7 billion worth of industrial output in Scotland.
  • Supports GVA worth £1.7 billion across Scotland.


The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) is a leading economy research institute based in the Department of Economics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.