New Statistics Canada research shows the full extent of the innovative pharmaceutical sector’s investments in Canada

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Ottawa, April 12, 2021 – Statistics Canada’s new report, The Canadian research and development pharmaceutical sector, examines the economic contribution of research and development (R&D) pharmaceutical activity in Canada. The research adds to our understanding the value the sector generates, the jobs it supports, and the investments made in Canada.

According to the report, in 2018, Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical sector supported over 100,000 high-value full time jobs. Additionally, the industry generated close to $15-billion in economic activity in Canada and invested nearly $2-billion in R&D.

The report also concludes that Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) members had significant contracting partnerships with Canadian hospitals and universities. Ninety per cent of the $144-million in R&D contracted to Canadian hospitals and universities by R&D pharmaceutical companies came from IMC members. These investments support local economies and offer Canadian doctors and hospitals access to innovative new therapies and medicines to better care for Canadians.

Furthermore, the report illustrates the limitations of the outdated 1987 definition of R&D used by the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB), which does not capture the full extent of industry investments in Canada. Based on new research conducted by EY using Statistics Canada data, Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry has an R&D-to-sales ratio of 8.8 per cent, more than twice that reported by PMPRB.

COVID-19 has underscored the contribution a strong life sciences sector makes to the health and well-being of people and economies worldwide. Canada is no different. The report findings further demonstrate the sector’s important role in Canada’s economy and healthcare ecosystem and underscores the critical need for industry and Government to work together to develop a stronger life sciences sector that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of all Canadians.

Quick facts:

  • The Canadian research and development pharmaceutical sector supports over 100,000 full time jobs.
  • The Canadian research and development pharmaceutical sector generates close to $15-billion in economic activity and nearly $2-billion in R&D.
  • The R&D spend for the sector to be up to $2-billion annually in research and development, stimulating innovation and creating life-changing and life-saving medicines for Canadians. Using these data, the implied R&D to sales ratio for the sector can be estimated at 8.8 per cent.


“This Statistics Canada research adds to our understanding and answers important questions about the true impact of the pharmaceutical sector on the Canadian economy, highlighting the significant value provided to Canadians that goes beyond innovative cures and treatments.” Pamela Fralick, President, Innovative Medicines Canada.

About Innovative Medicines Canada

Innovative Medicines Canada is the national voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry. We advocate for policies that enable the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative medicines and vaccines that improve the lives of all Canadians. We support our members’ commitment to being valued partners in the Canadian healthcare system.

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For further information:

Samantha Thompson
Media Relations
Telephone: 613-790-4555


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