These are interesting times for life scientists working in the pharmaceutical industry. By many measures, business is booming. The total drug pipeline has swelled by 15% a year over the past three years, compared to the usual annual rate of 10% to 12%. In 2004, pharma spent a record $38.8 billion on R&D, a 12% increase from 2003. And the industry is gradually shrinking the average time for clinical drug development, from 7.2 years in 1993–1995 to 5.9 years in 1996–1998.

The biopharmaceutical industry employed 413,700 people in the United States in 2004 – a number that's expected to grow to 536,000 in the next decade. The hottest job growth is expected in Massachusetts and Maryland, and the mid-Atlantic states. Other geographical pharma strongholds include Illinois, Indiana, and California, while Big Pharma is increasingly setting up shop in biotech hotspots such as Boston and in North Carolina's research triangle of...

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