Quintiles, a clinical research organization (i.e. a for-profit company that runs clinical trials/analysis, ostensibly as an impartial, independent entity), has started to invest in drug development themselves. David Kroll points out that there’s an troubling conflict of interest there, but I’d say that this isn’t a new problem, since we’ve always been scrutinizing trials funded and analyzed by pharma companies. The true problem might be if large companies like Quintiles dominate so much of the clinical trials market that academic medical institutions can’t fund or recruit patients for independent clinical trials of their own. Although we do have the NIH for things like that, the NIH is woefully underfunded, and independent trials are crucial for trying to reproduce results; that’s one of the key pillars of the scientific method.