A recent Brookings research report found that the private sector—including pharmaceutical companies, venture capital firms, and impact investors—devotes at least $159.9 billion to investments related to health care research and development (R&D) annually. Though many organizations and publications have measured public sector spending on drugs, vaccines, and therapeutics, the Brookings report is the first to quantify the amount invested by private firms. So who is driving this investment—and how much are they spending?


Pharmaceutical firms represent a large investor in overall health R&D. In 2016, they spent $156.7 billion globally. Roche and Novartis were the largest investors in this space, spending $8.7 billion and $7.9 billion, respectively. The table below identifies the other 18 highest-spenders.

Table 1: Total Pharmaceutical Overall Health R&D Spending, 2016



As Table 1 shows, the top 20 pharmaceutical firms invested $93.6 billion, while the remainder ($63.1 billion) came from other pharmaceutical companies around the world. While the top 20 firms are all based in Western countries, domestic pharmaceutical firms operating in China and India are significantly increasing the size and share of their investments.

Figure 1 below shows  spending by local firms from 2000 to 2016 and shows that expenditures rose over 4,400 percent, from $163 million in 2000 to $7.2 billion in 2016. Figure 2 shows the R&D spending by Indian pharmaceutical companies over the past decade, during which time expenditures increased 396 percent, from $480 million to $1.9 billion.

Read more at Brookings