Following the money: cross-national study of pharmaceutical industry payments to medical associations and patient organisations

Project: Research

Project Details


Social science has a long-standing interest in the pharmaceutical industry and its relations with the health system. A key area of concern is the large money sums paid or donated to other health system actors that could allow drug companies to convert their unrivalled financial resources into power over clinical and policy decisions. This internationally collaborative project employs a wealth of available payment data to map power relations involving the industry and medical associations and patient organisations – two actors with key roles in the health system. Informed by sociological and policy research, we examine the nature, structure, and determinants of payments; and their possible effects on the ‘industry-medical-patient complex’ within a global context. The project comprises a combination of light-touch country cases from Europe, Japan and the developing world and in-depth studies of three European countries - UK, Sweden and Latvia. The light-touch cases will involve Social Network Analysis of payment data. The in-depth cases will deploy also regression analyses of payments and other publicly available data, and thematic analysis of interviews with representatives of companies and payment recipients which will be sampled purposively based on their varying levels of inter-connectedness. The project will provide a novel theoretical and methodological toolbox for studying the nature and distribution of power which can inform research on other industries and sectors
Effective start/end date2021/01/012024/05/31

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

UKÄ subject classification

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)