Patterns of company misconduct, recidivism, and complaint resolution delays: A temporal analysis of UK pharmaceutical industry self-regulation within the European context

Shai Mulinari, Dylan Pashley, Piotr Ozieranski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interfirm self-regulation through trade associations is common but its effectiveness is debated and likely varies by time, country, and industry. This study examines self-regulation of pharmaceutical marketing, characterized by delegation of major regulatory responsibilities to trade associations' self-regulatory bodies. In addressing critical research gaps, this study first analyzes 1,776 complaints against pharmaceutical companies in the UK over 18 years (2004–2021). Findings regarding severe, repeat, and complex offending, and delays in complaint resolution raise significant concerns about the adequacy of UK's self-regulation in deterring wrongdoing. Second, the study conducts international comparisons using recent complaints data from 30 European pharmaceutical industry self-regulatory bodies. Despite shortcomings of UK's self-regulation, it appears more adept at identifying potential breaches compared to most other countries, suggesting significant underdetection or underreporting of drug company misconduct in Europe. On balance, our findings are concerning given the negative effects of poorly regulated pharmaceutical marketing on medical practice and health.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalRegulation and Governance
Early online date20 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2024


  • drug
  • Europe
  • industry
  • pharmaceutical
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Law

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