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University of Bath

What can be learnt from the new pharmaceutical industry payment disclosures?

This project investigates the relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry in today’s healthcare system.

Challenging relationships

Relationships between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry are a key area of controversy in today’s healthcare. While it is commonly recognised that collaboration between the two groups is vital for advancing drug innovation and treatment, doctors’ overly close, 'unhealthy’ dealings with the industry may bias their clinical decisions, research and advice to public authorities.

However, disclosing and managing these relationships remains a significant challenge, raising a number of policy dilemmas. This project takes up, therefore, two fundamental questions:

  • what is the overall pattern of medical-industry financial ties?
  • what is the nature, strengths and weaknesses of recent initiatives said to considerably enhance the transparency in medical-industry relations?

Gaining unprecedented insight

This project will use Social Networks Analysis and other statistical methods to provide unprecedented insight into previously unrealised large-scale patterns of medical-industry ties based on newly released data on pharmaceutical company payments to healthcare professionals and organisations.

We will also investigate the development and implementation of novel payment disclosure policies by combing analysis of stakeholder interviews, policy documents and survey data.

The project compares medical-industry financial ties and their disclosure across the EU and in particular in four countries with varying healthcare systems; Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland.

Benefits of the research

The project findings will benefit scholars in medical sociology, policy studies and public health. We will present work in progress at national and international conferences. We will publish at least five open access articles in top quartile journals.

The research will benefit:

  • policymakers
  • civil servants
  • expert advisors
  • medical professionals’ organisations
  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • patient advocacy groups
  • transparency watchdogs
  • think tanks at national and EU levels

The benefits will include enhanced understanding of medical-industry relationships and ways of optimising their governance.

Project outputs

Project team


This project is funded by FORTE - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.