Farmindustria has published “Pharmaceutical Indicators 2021,” the report closed with information available as of July 6, 2021, which highlights the evolution and characteristics of the pharmaceutical industry in Italy and its importance, given also the health emergency, to the country’s health and economic recovery.

The evolution and characteristics of the pharmaceutical industry in Italy

This year’s publication once again shows how the pharmaceutical sector plays a key role in the economy, with the companies involved continuing to create development and with a future scenario in which they play a leading role globally, within a framework of reforms that considers pharmaceuticals a strategic sector for national economic growth.

Main magnitudes of the pharmaceutical industry in Italy in 2020

The numbers reported by the study speak of a healthy industry, with a production value of 34.3 billion (+1 percent compared to 2019), a total foreign balance of +4.4 billion and an investment value of 3 billion.

On the employee front, there is +1.8% growth over 2019, rising to +12% over the past 5 years (+16% for those under 35).

In terms of investment in open innovation per employee, thanks to innovation agreements with universities and public research centers and the ISTAT Competitiveness Index, the pharmaceutical industry takes 1st place among industrial sectors in Italy.

Italy at the forefront of the fight against Covid

Drug companies and the entire research ecosystem in Italy have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid. On the publication side, companies, together all players in the research system in the country, contributed to a production of as many as 8,000 research publications, which ranks us 4th in the world after the United States, China and the United Kingdom.

The Covid experience has clearly shown that health is a global interest and that being well also means generating GDP, not only in the sectors directly concerned but also in all other sectors of the economy.

Italy among the world’s leading pharmaceutical hubs

With 34.3 billion in production value in 2020, Italy is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical hubs capable of playing a key role, along with France and Germany, in the economic growth of the European Union.

The abilities shown by companies to bring high levels of quality, innovation, investment and high value-added production to life together have contributed both to the development of the sector and to the attraction of domestic and foreign investment with an increase in exports of +74 percent between 2015 and 2020 (with an EU average of +48 percent).

Contract Development and Manufacturing in Pharmaceuticals in Italy

Foreign trade of the pharmaceutical industry grew in 2020 compared to 2019 with total exports registering +3.8 percent for a total amount of 33.9 billion euros. The development of production in the sector is also made possible by the contribution of enterprises active in the
Contract Development and Manufacturing
(CDMO), or “pharmaceutical manufacturing specialists,” whose activities over the past decade have seen growth both in terms of employees and turnover and on the investment side.


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