The pharmaceutical industry in Britain and France, 1919-1939.
This thesis describes the development of the pharmaceutical industry in Britain
and France, focusing on the experience of individual firms during the inter war period.
The resulting synthesis uses material from economic, technological, medical, social and
business history traditions to create a picture of the forces affecting the performance of
businesses in the two countries. It draws, in particular, on archival records from three
companies - Burroughs Welicome, RhOne-Poulenc and Sandoz - which operated in
Britain or France (or both), and which had made a commitment to research-based
products. This is supported by other archival material and a review of published
archivally-based studies on pharmaceutical companies (and other secondary sources) as
well as contemporary trade and professional journals, and institutional archives including
the Medical Research Council in Britain, and the Institut Pasteur and the Laboratoire
National de Contrôle du Médicament in France. The structure holds both thematic
chapters (on sizes and types of company, the medical context, and the institutional and
regulatory context) and company-specific chapters.
The key findings concern the widely different origins of the firms operating within
the industry, the impact of the different legal framework governing the two markets, the
changing nature of the marketing of pharmaceuticals during the period, and the adoption
of diverse research and development strategies by companies in the two markets. The
detailed case study research shows pharmaceutical companies playing an increasingly
active role in trying to influence institutions, and the medical profession in both countries
during the 1920s and 1930s. It also demonstrates the interplay between academic
institutions and company research and development staff in work on new medicines.
The main contribution of this thesis comes from the broad range of sources used
and the way that new company sources are integrated with existing material to provide
a comprehensive company-based account of the development of a sector of economic