Manal Haddad

The Evolution of the Global Pharmaceutical Industry

The global pharmaceutical industry is estimated to hit $1250.24 billion in 2021 in revenue with a CAGR of 1.8%. The past few decades especially have seen massive growth in the pharmaceutical industry, with plenty of investments and industry reforms completely changing the global landscape of the industry. So let’s take a look at the evolution of the global pharmaceutical industry all these years.


It’s unclear where the pharmaceutical industry started since the concept of medicine and cure has been around for centuries now, with apothecaries and pharmacies doing the job back then. But it wasn’t until the 19th century when major industrial changes took place, cementing the foundations of the global pharmaceutical industry as we know it today. The German company Merck was possibly the first company to introduce the concept of a pharmaceutical industry.

Industry Leaders

Popular UK pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline was one of the industry leaders in the 20th century when it came to revolutionize the system of researching and creating medicines for cures. Their US counterpart was Pfizer, another pharmaceutical giant today. They were particularly well-known for supplying union armies with medicines during the Civil War.

Social healthcare systems such as the NHS in the UK were founded during the post-war period as governments worldwide began to see the importance of a prominent Medicare system in place. This, in turn, led to the pharmaceutical industry rising as well, with massive investments coming in.

Present State

The last few decades have been characterized by major shifts in the landscape of the pharmaceutical industry. There has been development of new drugs and classes of medicine and research into safe and effective therapies to treat patients. In addition, research on diseases like hepatitis, cancer, and other infectious diseases is ongoing. The COVID-19 pandemic also put pressure on the pharmaceutical industry with investment pouring in to create a vaccine for COVID-19.

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