The US biotechnology industry includes about 1,500 companies with combined annual revenue of about $70 billion. Major companies include Amgen, Biogen Idec, Genentech (owned by Switzerland-based Roche), Genzyme, Life Technologies, and Monsanto. Because many drugs are now developed using biotechnology, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries overlap considerably.
Demand for biotechnology research in the fields of medicine, agriculture, food, and science is driven by insurers' willingness to pay for new medical treatments, the global need to produce more food for a rapidly expanding population, and scientists' desire to find solutions for complex scientific and medical issues. Funding for biotech research is often provided by venture capital funds hoping to cash in on new products. The profitability of individual companies depends on the discovery and effective marketing of new products. Because the market for potential products is so large, small biotechnology companies can co-exist successfully with large ones if they have expertise in a particular line of research. The industry is capital intensive: average annual revenue per worker is more than $350,000.
Biotech firms face stiff competition from pharmaceutical and other companies seeking to be first with a new product or discovery.
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