Many of the policies and procedures for the ethical oversight of research were put in place in an era when public funding was much more prominent than it is now. Over the last 2 decades there havebeen major changes, with increasing pressure on universities, teaching hospitals and individual researchers to seek industry sponsorship for research, and the pharmaceutical industry has become the single largest direct funder of medical research in Canada, the United Kingdom and theUnited States. At its best, academic participation in the development of drugs leads to effective and safe new therapies. However, conflicts of interest are inevitable at times,because the goals of industry and of academia differ. These conflicts put pressure on researchers to stretch — occasionally to the point of breaking — fundamental principles of ethical and scientific behaviour, and they may result in corporate research agendas, rather than the broader public agenda, being placed centre stage.