New Jersey Pharmaceuticals Industry Writes Prescription for Growth

For 17 of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, New Jersey is the perfect prescription for growth. Often called “the medicine chest of the world,” New Jersey leads the nation in both pharmaceuticals and biotechs, creating a $29.3 billion economic impact and attracting the industries’ top professionals. Household names with major operations in the state include Bayer HealthCare, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Merck.

Betsy Williams
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 14:23

For 15 of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, New Jersey is the perfect prescription for growth. Often referred to as the Medicine Chest of the World, New Jersey is a hub of pharmaceutical and medical technology enterprise, creating a $29.3 billion economic impact and employing more than 131,000 people. Household names with major operations in the state include Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Merck and Bayer HealthCare.

"New Jersey has a decades-long heritage as a center of excellence for pharmaceutical companies," says Charlie Mayr, spokesman for Parsippany-based Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. "We're in a climate that has access to highly skilled global pharmaceutical experts, a supportive state government and access to the financial center of the world in New York City. And because a global business has to be run in real time, it's great to be located in the Eastern Time Zone."

With $3.5 billion in global revenues, Watson Pharmaceuticals is the fifth-largest generics producer in the world, and also operates successful brand pharmaceutical and biologics businesses. In 2011, Watson Pharmaceuticals relocated its administrative headquarters to a 150,000-square-foot office in Parsippany, making room for its staff of 250 to double in size over the next few years. The move was supported by the state's New Jersey's Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) and Business Retention and Relocation Assistance grant.

"We did look at other options in a number of states, but Gov. Chris Christie has been extraordinarily supportive of businesses, addressing local issues, encouraging expansion and turning around the business climate here in New Jersey," Mayr says.

Another recent success for the state's pharmaceutical sector came when Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc. relocated its U.S. corporate headquarters from Maryland to New Jersey, creating 50 new jobs in the state. The company develops, markets and sells pharmaceutical, diagnostic and medical device products in coordination with its Japanese-based parent company, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. Otsuka invested $2.5 million in its expansion, which involved moving to a new 67,000-square-foot facility in West Windsor.

Overall, major pharmaceutical-related businesses are expected to make $2.6 billion in capital investments in the state over the next two years.

In April 2011,  New Jersey's status as the hub of the global pharmaceutical industry was reinforced when Bayer HealthCare announced it would consolidate its entire East Coast business in the Garden State. That move will add 500 jobs to the company's 1,000-employee workforce in the state.

The company, which has facilities in Wayne and Montville, said several sites near the company’s current locations are under consideration for the consolidated headquarters. About 300 of the additional 500 jobs will be from relocations from other Bayer operations, with the remaining 200 jobs expected to be new positions. 

The HealthCare Institute of New Jersey

Helping to promote bioscience development in the state is the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, a trade association for the state's research-based pharmaceutical and medical technology industry. Founded in 1997, the institute serves as a unified voice for the industry and seeks to build awareness of its impact on New Jersey's quality of life and economic well-being.

"Regional clustering doesn't just happen," says Donald H. Sebastian, Ph.D., New Jersey Institute of Technology's senior vice president for research and development. "New Jersey's life science industry is the perfect anchor for a cluster, but it takes a progressive attitude towards public-private partnering to foster innovation across a supply chain."

New Jersey also is home to major health-care foundations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Henry H. Kessler Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, that support breakthrough research across the spectrum of health care.

A Leader in Science

Also working to enhance biotechnology in the state is BioNJ. This 265-member organization is an advocate for biotechnology companies through government collaborations, industry programs, events and purchasing programs. BioNJ also partners with service providers specializing in biotechnology and works closely with New Jersey's pharmaceutical industry.

"The industries work closely together, but are in different places in their respective life cycles," says BioNJ President Debbie Hart. "Because biotech is a younger, leaner industry, it's financed much differently than the pharmaceutical community."

Biotech companies advance research using bio-organisms instead of chemicals, setting themselves apart in the life sciences continuum. More than 300 such organizations are located in New Jersey, which boasts 184,000 scientific professionals, the highest concentration of any state in the nation. The state also is home to some of the world's largest clinical research organizations, including Covance, Pharmanet Development Group and Quintiles.

"The industry was born here as a result of a tremendous talent pool, opportunities to collaborate with big pharmaceutical companies and opportunities for investment," Hart says. "It's just a great place to be."


Betsy Williams has extensive experience in economic development and advocating for businesses of all sizes.