A Bitter Pill To Swallow: How Big Pharma Dominates in the UK

Patrick Bruggisser, Kristina Samoskaite, Sarah Jane Vowden & Hassan Kilde Bajwa

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


In this project we analyze the relationship between the UK government and the pharmaceutical industry to identify the power dynamics that characterize it. In doing so we identify the various forms of power exercised and how these affect each other. This gives us an idea of which party hold the greater power and why. We then do a cursory test of our findings by reviewing the UK government’s response to the House of Commons Health Committee’s report on the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Finally, we discuss the implications of the analysis and suggest alternatives to put the needs of public health firmly in the driver’s seat again. The theoretical foundation for our analysis is Lukes’ 3 dimensions of power. The analysis shows that power in the 1st and 2nd dimension tilts in favour of the government, thereby securing the interests of public health. However the domination by the pharmaceutical industry in the 3rd dimension nullifies the power of government in the 1st and 2nd dimension and indicates that the interests of the pharmaceutical industry take precedence over public health where the interests conflict. Our review of the government’s response to the Health Committee Report shows that though the Health Committee report was critical of the level of influence exerted by the pharmaceutical industry, the government’s response was remarkably laissez faire. This indicates that the government is either unaware or willfully ignoring the power asymmetry implied by our analysis. We then conclude with suggestions as to how the power asymmetry may be resolved and public health given priority over pharmaceutical industry profit.

UddannelserBasis - International Samfundsvidenskabelig Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato22 jan. 2015
VejledereAda Scupola


  • Big Pharma
  • NHS