The influence of the pharmaceutical industry on academic medicine is pervasive. Almost 90% of authors published in the Journal of the American Medical Associatio. have received research funding from, or acted as a consultant for, a drug company. Rising to this challenge, editors of medical journals have agreed strict rules on reporting sponsorship and conflicts of interest. Academic psychiatry is not exempt from the influence of industry. The relationship between drug companies and academic psychiatry is currently very close. But is this a problem? On the one hand, links with the pharmaceutical industry may be considered to compromise the independence of researchers and possibly discredit their published work. On the other hand the relationship may be seen as productive and mutually beneficial – particularly in an era of limited funds for research. These issues are discussed in this month's debate by Dr David Healy, Director of the North Wales Psychiatric Service, who is a well-known commentator on the pharmaceutical industry, and Dr Michael Thase, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the author of a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of venlafaxine published in this Journal in 2001.