Academic medical centers and drug manufacturers have traditionally occupied very distinct positions with regard to public trust. As collaborations among medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies expand, however, worries about the aggressive pursuit of profit that has tarnished the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry may be transferred to medical institutions and clinical investigators, suggesting to some that biomedical research is more about increasing profit than promoting public health. Consequently, when medical institutions forge research collaborations with industry they should be mindful of the potential for these relationships to erode public confidence in the integrity of clinical research.
Recent events have heightened concerns about the financing of clinical research. These include the widely publicized deaths of several research volunteers, scandals at the nation's largest funder of biomedical research, and evidence of fabricated research findings in prominent medical journals. These unfortunate events have prompted many to re-examine strategies for managing industry relationships and the financial conflicts of interest they may create.