The Drug Industry and Clinical Research in Interwar America: Three Types of Physician Collaborator

This essay describes collaborations between American pharmaceutical companies and clinical investigators, mainly in academic medical centers and other research institutions, during the interwar period. I argue that efforts on the part of early twentieth-century "scientific medicine" reformers to impose higher standards on the testing and promotion of pharmaceuticals led both to the intended disciplining of the drug industry and also, as a reciprocal but unintended consequence, to a deep involvement with industry among medical scientists. Three basic patterns of collaboration between clinical trialists and sponsoring drugs firms are described. These patterns may help illuminate the mutual accommodation between ethical drug firms and academic clinical researchers (and institutions) that still prevails today.