Life Sciences no Longer Immune to Offshore Job Exodus

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The biotech industry seemed immune to the offshore employment trend affecting high tech and other industries. However, there are signs that biotech companies are eyeing foreign employment because the labor is far cheaper and often just as qualified. Medzilla looks at some of the trends that could lead to an offshore push in biotech and what we might do as a nation to keep US jobs in the US.


Life sciences no longer immune to offshore job exodus

Marysville, WA Are companies in the life sciences space taking their jobs offshore? This question has people in many industries wondering if they might lose their jobs because someone in another country would happily do them for less money.

“Times are ripe for an offshore trend in biotech,” says Frank Heasley, PhD, president and CEO of, ( a leading Internet recruitment and professional community that serves biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and science. “Our corporations are looking for less expensive labor, while other countries that have as high or even higher educational standards are fighting to keep their coveted researchers and scientists and are focused on convincing our biotech companies to outsource jobs to them.”

Another issue that could adversely affect jobs in the US biotech industry, according to Dr. Heasley, is that of embryonic stem cell funding.

The Bush administration, concerned with the destruction of human embryos in the harvesting process, has limited governmental research funding in the area of embryonic stem-cell research to only those lines created before August 9, 2001. In the United States, there are only 19 viable embryonic stem-cell lines that meet these requirements, which is forcing stem-cell research to be out-sourced to countries with less restrictive rules.

George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D., wrote in a perspective in the August 12, 2004 New England Journal of Medicine that some 128 new human embryonic stem-cell lines have been produced worldwide since the President’s announcement. The Bush administration's policy, he believes, has severely curtailed opportunities for US scientists to achieve technical advances with cell lines that have since been established.

Look what is happening to information technology

“The life sciences have so far been deaf to the siren song of outsourcing,” Richard Gallagher reported June 7, 2004 on “But consider other professions: chip-design teams, engineering firms, software development companies and financial analysis offices are leaving to employ highly skilled workers and enjoy substantial savings elsewhere. An estimated 3 million US white-collar jobs alone are slated to relocate to developing countries. I suspect that the life sciences will go the same way, sooner or later.”

In a May 5, 2004 article on, Charles Cooper reported that more than 40% of US technology executives would be willing to pay higher taxes to compensate for jobs they send offshore, according to a nationwide poll by CNET and Harris Interactive. For the most part, the nearly 500 information technology decision makers surveyed indicated that they accept global outsourcing as a new reality and almost half of those surveyed agree that the practice of offshore outsourcing is a natural part of the evolution of a capitalistic society, according to .

International workers can cost as little as a tenth of what it costs to employ someone in the US, according to an article published April 18, 2004 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The signs are there

San Francisco Chronicle Reporter Bernadette Tamsey writes that Bay Area companies such as Stanford University spin-off SRI International and Genentech Inc have outsourcing deals.

Foreign governments are making it a priority to attract US biotech business, offering access to highly trained workers and fully equipped labs, according to the article.

To help avoid the possibility that overseas competition might challenge California as the epicenter of innovation, California firms are pressing the state government for tax incentives, improvements in education and workforce development and increases in affordable housing that would make it easier for biotech companies to locate in the state, according to the Chronicle.

“We lead the world in biotech innovation right now, but that can quickly change,” Dr. Heasley says. “The ongoing loss of US jobs to foreign interests is hurting people who need to work here. However, in the long term, the loss of those jobs will also result in the loss of our ability to innovate in key technical areas like biotechnology, computers and electronics. It’s time to take steps to encourage the industry to keep our jobs, and our technology, in the US.”


Established in mid 1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. MedZilla databases contain about 10,000 open positions, 13,000 resumes from candidates actively seeking new positions and 121,000 archived resumes.

Medzilla® is a Registered Trademark owned by Medzilla Inc. Copyright ©2004, MedZilla, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this text in its entirety, and if electronically, with a link to the URL . For permission to quote from or reproduce any portion of this message, please contact Michele Groutage, Director of Marketing and Development, MedZilla, Inc. Email: e-mail protected from spam bots.

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