The length, the composition, the quality and the characteristics of value chains essentially determine the corporate as well as the macroeconomic performance of the economic sectors and industries. Hungary has a strong tradition in the pharmaceutical industry but its dynamising impact seems to be limited on the economy. The aim of this paper is to detect and reveal the specialties of the Hungarian pharmaceutical industry both in space and time by a value chain analysis. Our method is partly quantitative, we use an input-output analysis; and partly qualitative, relying on interviews with the representatives of pharmaceutical companies. We found that the Hungarian pharma value chain is really special, having relatively short backward and forward linkages with mainly indirect value-added contribution as well as high import content of exports. However, our company interviews revealed the fundamental differences between original and generic value chains – i.e. again a pharma industry-specific distinction. Having relatively little original and more substantial generic production in Hungary explains much of the value chain specialties, which leaves its mark on the limited impact of the industry on the national economy.