Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry
: a study of the effects of regulation on the U.K. pharmaceutical industry

  • Carl W. Peters

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A history of government drug regulation and the relationship between the pharmaceutical companies in the U.K. and the licensing authority is outlined. Phases of regulatory stringency are identified with the formation of the Committees on Safety of Drugs and Medicines viewed as watersheds. A study of the impact of government regulation on industrial R&D activities focuses on the effects on the rate and direction of new product innovation. A literature review examines the decline in new chemical entity innovation. Regulations are cited as a major but not singular cause of the decline. Previous research attempting to determine the causes of such a decline on an empirical basis is given and the methodological problems associated with such research are identified. The U.K. owned sector of the British pharmaceutical industry is selected for a study employing a bottom-up approach allowing disaggregation of data. A historical background to the industry is provided, with each company analysed or a case study basis. Variations between companies regarding the policies adopted for R&D are emphasised. The process of drug innovation is described in order to determine possible indicators of the rate and direction of inventive and innovative activity. All possible indicators are considered and their suitability assessed. R&D expenditure data for the period 1960-1983 is subsequently presented as an input indicator. Intermediate output indicators are treated in a similar way and patent data are identified as a readily-available and useful source. The advantages and disadvantages of using such data are considered. Using interview material, patenting policies for most of the U.K. companies are described providing a background for a patent-based study. Sources of patent data are examined with an emphasis on computerised systems. A number of searches using a variety of sources are presented. Patent family size is examined as a possible indicator of an invention's relative importance. The patenting activity of the companies over the period 1960-1983 is given and the variation between companies is noted. The relationship between patent data and other indicators used is analysed using statistical methods resulting in an apparent lack of correlation. An alternative approach taking into account variations in company policy and phases in research activity indicates a stronger relationship between patenting activity, R&D Expenditure and NCE output over the period. The relationship is not apparent at an aggregated company level. Some evidence is presented for a relationship between phases of regulatory stringency, inventive and innovative activity but the importance of other factors is emphasised.
Date of Award1985
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorH. Fred Steward (Supervisor)


  • pharmaceutical industry
  • regulation
  • U.K.
  • patents
  • indicators

Cite this