Where in the United States are drugs invented?

Following on the heels of my post on Globalization in the Pharmaceutical Industry, it is also useful to examine the distribution of inventorship across the United States. The stakes aren’t quite as high here — public health and national security don’t come in to play — but there still are important implications for economic development.

Using the same methodology, assigning relative inventorship of the patents from each year’s approved drugs from 2000 through 2010 (source: www.DrugPatentWatch.com), I focused on US inventors and examined the distribution by state.

1: New Jersey and California lead the nation

There aren’t too many surprises at the top of the list; one would expect New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts to top the list. Going further down the list shows strong activity in states that might not get the attention they deserve as leaders of pharmaceutical innovation.

2: Some states show surprising volatility

While the patenting activity in states like New Jersey and California seems relatively stable year-over-year and fairly tracks the graph’s overall trend, there is great volatility in other states. Massachusettts and Ohio, for example, show sharp spikes in absolute and relative terms. This activity merits additional investigation, and is potentially an opportunity for regional economic development authorities to identify and support the activities enabling the spikes.

You can also get more detailed information on the complete set of drug inventors and where they live in my United States Drug Patent Inventor Report. A  Global Drug Patent Inventor Report and other Individual Country Drug Patent Inventor Reports are also available.

What do you think of the findings? Are you surprised? Do you disagree? Sound off in the comments.

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  1. Bernd Janssen
      October 28, 2011

    In order to properly interpret the charts you show, one would have to look at the data analysis more closely. Unfortunately, these sources your reports you referred to, come with a fairly steep price tag.
    You seem to look at FDA (?) approved drugs in each year, then pick the correspondingly granted (?) US (?) patent that covers composition of matter or novel use (?), and list up the states of residence for all the inventors that contributed.
    Thus, the time lines you indicate in the charts are a bit misleading if not adjusted for their individual “lag period”: All these drugs have probably seen different development time – from inventorship (priority date) to NDA approval. Did you address this aspect- and how?
    There are a couple of other issues that make your statistics ay least difficult to understand and don’t allow to draw serious conclusions.

  2. BiotechBlog
      October 28, 2011

    Thank you for your commentary.
    The methodology is described in my Nature Reviews Drug Discovery paper at http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v9/n11/full/nrd3298.html and is largely as your describe — the first-year US patents of each year’s FDA approved drugs are examined. Focusing on the US market and US patents is necessary to limit bias — considering patents or drugs from multiple countries could introduce additional biases which would be difficult to interpret. The restriction to first-year patents (i.e. patents listed on the drug in the first year of its approval) is used to focus on patents tied to the invention of the drug, as patents on incremental improvements tend to get listed later in a drug’s life.
    The timelines are not meant to be misleading. There is a lag if you are focused on patenting activity, but the charts are based on the drug approval date. So, yes, it it is important to consider that the patents were likely filed 5-10 years before the approval, and that the research likely occurred prior to that. There is no simple way to address this lag — how could you tell which patent that have been filed recently will be relevant to yet-to-be approved drugs? It is vitally important to focus on approved drugs. Examining drugs in clinical trials, for example, could easily bias in favor of situations where there is great research activity that never produces an approved drug. That would yield muddy and uninterpretable results.

  3. Joe Montgomery
      November 1, 2011

    Interesting data here… I am from Minnesota, and am not at all surprised to see my state on the list. We have some large pharmaceutical companies here which are doing a lot of great things. I don’t think there is a ton of focus on drugs, however. We tend to be more medical device focused. It’s definitely something that I think the state as a whole would like to keep competitive with, though I think some buyouts and mergers in the last 5 years have hampered that progress a little bit.

  4. Mike
      November 14, 2011

    In Texas the situation is little different but there is a large scope of improvement. With more and more pharmaceutical companies setting up every year. It may reach on top very soon and surprise everyone.

  5. BiotechBlog
      November 14, 2011

    Thanks for the Texan perspective. I did some work there a few years ago, and funding was generally unavailable for life sciences, favoring oil and real estate instead. It is good to hear that the situation has changed. I would caution, however, that many states suffer from brain drain to the northeast / California.