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Following the money: cross-national study of pharmaceutical industry payments

This project aims to map power relations involving the pharmaceutical industry and other key actors within the health system.



Project status

In progress


1 Jan 2021 to 30 Dec 2024

The main focus of our research is on collaborations between drug companies and other healthcare actors, including healthcare providers, medical societies, and patient organisations.

These partnerships can bring important benefits to patients and the health service, but they can also result in conflicts of interest that undermine patient care, medical research and good stewardship of public funding.

Informed by sociological and policy research, the project will examine the structure determinants and possible effects of payments drug companies make to facilitate these partnerships. We’ll also examine how collaborations with drug companies are governed and whether patients and members of the public have access to reliable information about any potential conflicts of interest that may be involved in them.

In following the industry money, we utilise drug company payment disclosures, a novel source of data that has been made publicly available as a result of a global policy trend towards enhanced transparency as a form of good governance.

We use both existing datasets of financial transfers and create them by scrapping and compiling dispersed financial disclosures or submitting freedom of information requests.

We have conducted many country case studies (including the United Kingdom and its constituent parts, Sweden and Japan), structured comparisons of several countries (the Nordics), and comparative analyses of 37 European countries. Key methods of analysis include regression models and social network analysis.

The project is interdisciplinary in nature, involving collaboration with healthcare professionals from the Medical Governance Research Institute (Japan), the University of St Andrews (Scotland), the Royal College of Surgeons (Ireland), as well as with investigative journalists (including from The British Medical Journal (BMJ)).

This project emerged from a long-standing collaboration between Bath’s Department of Social and Policy Sciences and Lund University (Sweden), and has now grown into a global network of project partners based in Scotland, Ireland, Poland, and Japan.


This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council. The funding amount is 3,789,000 SEK (Swedish Krona), which is around £285,000

Project team and partners

Project team

Project partners

Lund University, Sweden

Medical Governance Research Institute, Japan

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ireland

University of St Andrews

Kozminski University, Poland

Project outputs

United Kingdom


Nordic Countries

Project outputs (United States and Japan)

United States


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