It has changed drastically. Post 1980s, governments reacted to the rising cost of public health. In the US, the landscape changed with the Hatch-Waxman Act (1984). This new legislation suppressed the need for an applicant to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a new generic drug by way of submitting an ANDA (Abbreviated New Drug Application). A bioequivalence study was sufficient to market a generic drug, provided there was no patent infringement.
Northern and East European countries adopted similar policies. The southern part of Europe – including France – followed suit, albeit at a slower pace. As a result, the market share of generics increased rapidly. Today, the average price of a generic drug is about 10 percent of the brand name.
Prior to 1990, part of the pharmaceutical industry was integrated with big companies that produced commodities such as phenol, nitric acid, acetic acid and hydrofluoric acid. They diversified by producing intermediates, and then the final API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) and DP (drug product/finished formulations).