Dr Piotr Ozieranski, Transparency Lead, Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy, University of Bath, UK

Dr Akihiko Ozaki, Medical Governance Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan

Dr Theo Papadopoulos, Co-Director, Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy, University of Bath, UK

Collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare sector are vital for developing new and effective medical treatments. However, at the same time, these collaborations sometimes lead to conflicts of interest which undermine patient safety and public health. Transparency is commonly seen as key to addressing conflicts of interest and building trust in people in institutions which are vital for ensuring the population’s health.

Since 2019 the Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy and Society (CASPS) at the University of Bath has been collaborating with the Medical Governance Research Institute (MEGRI) based at Tokyo, Japan, on examining and comparing the rules governing the disclosure of payments that pharmaceutical companies make to the healthcare sector in the UK and Japan. Key findings from this phase of our research have been published in a major comparative paper published in Globalization and Health.

Our new research project, generously funded by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, seeks to examine why, compared to the UK, the pharmaceutical industry in Japan has more comprehensive transparency rules regarding some aspects of collaborations between the pharmaceutical industry but not others. This research will draw on a new data source – qualitative interviews with stakeholders involved in pharmaceutical policymaking in Japan.

To help meet the project goals, a Japanese medical student affiliated with MEGRI will spend time as a visiting researcher at CASP to receive training in conducting and analysing elite and expert interviews and undertaking related policy analysis. Equipped with the new practical knowledge and training, the student will conduct interviews with the policy stakeholders in Japan. Findings from this research will inform not only research publications but also a hybrid policy workshop on transparency and conflicts of interests, bringing together researchers, medical doctors, patient organisation representatives and policymakers form the UK and Japan.

Our collaborative research brings together insights from social scientists, policy experts and medical professionals. We look forward to taking it further thanks to the support of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation!