How much chemistry is used in pharmacy

Chemistry and pharmacy

Industry sketch

The chemical-pharmaceutical industry is the third largest branch of industry after vehicle and mechanical engineering. It is an industry that produces intermediate goods. Around 26 percent of chemical products (varnishes, paints, adhesives, fertilizers, personal care products, etc.) go directly to the end consumer. Around 70 percent are further processed within the industry. Important customers are plastics processors, mechanical engineering, the automotive, packaging, construction and textile industries. The remainder goes to service providers or for commercial use. In terms of sales, the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry ranks first in Europe and fourth worldwide behind China, the USA and Japan. It is also the world export champion and the third largest importer. Alongside the USA, Europe is the most important sales market.

The Pharmaceutical Industry is an important part of the chemical industry. Pharmaceutical products account for over 20 percent of the total chemical production. The Pharmaceutical industry is one of the most productive and research-intensive industries in Germany. Research expenditure averages more than 10 percent of sales.

Key data of the German chemical industry

(including pharmaceutical industry)

Employees (in thousands)464,0464,0
Total sales (in billion euros)198,3189,6
Production (compared to the previous year in%)- 2,3– 0,8
Exports (in billion euros)202,1199,7
Imports (in billions of euros)145,9143,2

R&D expenditure (in billion euros)

from that
Chemical industry
Pharmaceutical Industry




k. A.

Sources: Federal Statistical Office; Association of the chemical industry

Current developments 2020

The year 2020 was marked by strong ups and downs for the chemical-pharmaceutical industry. The industry got off to a robust start in 2020. In the third half of the year, the industry was able to benefit from the different corona-related declines in the individual divisions in the first half of the year. Recover slightly again in the quarter. Even if strong increases in production and sales were achieved in the fourth quarter, the bottom line was that these were not enough to bring the 2020 annual balance back into positive territory. Production in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry fell by a total of 0.8 percent compared to the previous year. Without pharmaceuticals, the chemical industry posted a total production decline of 1.0 percent.

Producer prices 2020

The prices for chemical products were 1.8 percent lower than in the previous year.

Sales 2020

The total turnover of the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry in 2020 was 189.6 billion euros, 4.4 percent below the previous year. Both domestic and foreign sales were lower than a year earlier. Domestic sales fell by 2.3 percent and sales on foreign markets even fell by 5.6 percent.

Employment 2020

Almost 2,200 companies in Germany belong to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. More than 90 percent of them are small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees. Despite the corona crisis, the chemical and pharmaceutical companies were able to keep their workforce in 2020. They currently employ 464,000 women and men. Around 70,000 employees have been on short-time work since spring 2020. Companies in the supply chain of the automotive industry are particularly affected.

Forecast for the full year 2021

A production increase of 3 percent is expected for the full year 2021. Given rising producer prices (+2 percent), industry sales are expected to rise by a good 5 percent from 189.6 billion euros to around 200 billion euros.

What is the BMWi doing for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry?

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy ...

  • advocates competitive and stable framework conditions for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. According to this self-image, it is the primary task within the federal government to ensure that framework legislation is implemented at all levels - national, European, international - that strengthens the competitiveness of German industry in the long term. The most important boundary condition here is that, in comparison with other industrialized countries in the world, we create the same competitive conditions (level playing field) as possible, which enable a sustainable, competitive manufacturing industry.
  • In this context, supervises national and European legislative proposals on chemical safety, biocides, cosmetics, pesticides, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals with the aim of finding economically viable and unbureaucratic solutions and promoting innovations,
  • works on the further development of international agreements on the trade and on the production and use of chemicals and their implementation in European law in order to avoid distortions of competition,
  • accompanies the decision on trade policy measures with the aim of preventing anti-competitive behavior and thus maintaining a balanced mix of industries within Europe in the long term.

Information on current topics

  • As a result of the top-level discussion within the framework of the BMWi industry dialogues, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI), the Federal Chemical Employers' Association (BAVC) and the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) have entered into a joint agreement ( PDF: 4 MB) identified the priority fields of action and measures that are intended to improve future prospects for the chemical industry and Germany as a business location. A work process for the implementation of the joint agreement was established in order to record the progress made in monitoring reports and to promptly identify the need for action. The monitoring reports are regularly adopted in top-level discussions between the dialogue partners.
  • Under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Economics, the Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Future Dialogue was launched in November 2020 together with the top of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry, the Association of the Chemical Industry (VCI) and the Federal Chemical Employers' Association (BAVC). The aim is to develop an “Action Concept for the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry” by the middle of the second quarter of 2021. The concept is intended to identify the framework conditions necessary to guarantee high-performance, internationally competitive, climate-neutral chemical production in Germany and to list specific recommendations for action.
  • At the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economics, a separate group was established at the European level (EPG-REACH / CLP), which advises the Commission and ECHA on an equal footing with other advisory bodies from the environmental sector. Closely linked to this is the "REACH / CLP advisory group" located in the relevant specialist department, which regularly provides and discusses the industrial users downstream of the chemical industry with all the latest information from the relevant EU committees, so that the opinion of the industry is also carried back in these bodies.