November 2019 – October 2022

India, Kenya, South Africa, Sri Lanka


The pharmaceutical industry uses animal life or animal-based materials at different stages of innovation and manufacturing. This is the case, for example, with mice and chimpanzees used as guinea pigs during the innovation phase, or with the fat of porcine or bovine origin used in the manufacture of the gelatine which coats medicinal capsules. This phenomenon has been little studied by the social sciences. These have documented animal experimentation, particularly in the context of a reflection on experimental ethics; they paid less attention to the industrial uses of animal life during the pharmaceutical production process; and so far they have not proposed a general explanation of the uses of animal life in the global context of the pharmaceutical industry and its market dynamics, simultaneously covering the challenges of innovation and production.



To remedy this lack, the ANIPHARM project analyses the "pharmaceutical uses of animal life" by mapping them. It submits the hypothesis that such uses reflect a particular articulation of the field of life sciences with the institutions of market globalization; they highlight some mechanisms of biomedical globalization.

The project relies on a series of case studies, analysed through interviews and ethnographic work: the chimpanzees sold by Mauritius for experimentation, the gelatine of porcine or bovine origin produced in South Africa to be used in the manufacture of medicines, donkey skin produced in Kenya and used by traditional Chinese medicine, pangolin scales poached in India and Sri Lanka to feed the markets of Southeast Asia. This project is interdisciplinary: anchored above all in social studies of science, it mobilizes tools from different research streams: pharmaceutical studies, animal studies, the socio-anthropology of markets, studies of globalization "from below".



Scientific coordination: Mathieu Quet (Centre population et développement)



French National Research Agency