Strong action is needed to preserve the competitiveness of America’s life-science industries

Living standards in the United States increasingly depend on the competitiveness of industries that compete internationally, particularly those that succeed by producing new innovations.

The life-science sector, which includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices, is one of those industries. It is also an American success story: Our country captures more than 40 percent of the world’s major patents in both pharmaceuticals and medical devices. But as I describe in a new report written for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the continued health of the U.S. life-sciences sector is at risk because a growing number of foreign competitors are making determined efforts to gain global market share, often using unfair tactics.

The importance of the life-science sector for the U.S. economy is difficult to overstate. It employs more than 1.2 million U.S. workers, with average wages ranging from $124,400 in pharmaceuticals to $86,200 in medical devices. And unlike U.S. manufacturing, where the number of jobs has fallen over the last 15 years, the number of life-science jobs has been steadily growing.