Economic impact of industry-sponsored clinical trials of pharmaceutical products in Austria

J Med Econ. 2020 Jun;23(6):566-574. doi: 10.1080/13696998.2020.1728977. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


Aims: Modern pharmaceutical product development is a long and complex process associated with significant investments by pharmaceutical companies. The innovative pharmaceutical industry accounts for the vast majority of expenditures in clinical trials of potential new pharmaceuticals and therefore generates economic activity within a country. The aim was to assess the far-reaching economic impact of industry-sponsored clinical-trials (ISCTs) of pharmaceutical products for the healthcare system and the national economy.Materials and methods: The study approach was based on three analytical steps. First, a survey among 15 pharmaceutical companies in Austria was conducted to evaluate the annual number of ISCTs subdivided according to trial phase, therapeutic areas and associated employees. Second, the monetary value of treatments performed in ISCTs was calculated based on a sample of clinical-trial protocols. Finally, the macroeconomic impact, measured in terms of value-added and jobs created by the conducted ISCTs, was calculated using Input-Output analysis by applying an extended Leontief-model.Results: The study demonstrated that €116.22 million spent in ISCTs generated a total value added of €144 million, €74 million direct, in 2018. Each year a medical treatment value of €100 million was financed through 463 ISCTs, with an average value of medical treatment of €37,068 per recruited patient. This represents a significant 0.3% of annual current health-expenditures. In summary, each Euro invested by the pharmaceutical industry in ISCTs generates €1.95 for the Austrian economy. ISCTs also created and secured employment in the extent of 2,021 full-time-equivalents, thus resulting in an employment multiplier of 1.66.Conclusions: In conclusion, conducting clinical-trials by pharmaceutical industry-beside its importance in its own domain-results in tangible benefits and a positive macroeconomic impact that contribute to the sustainability of the Austrian healthcare system by complementing its limited resources. Furthermore, it is a non-negligible factor in locational and industrial policy.

Keywords: F11; F15; I10; I11; Industry-sponsored clinical trials; O30; employment; macroeconomic effects; value added.

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / economics*
  • Drug Industry / economics*
  • Gross Domestic Product / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Research Design