Universities often partner with pharmaceutical companies (the partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and GSK is one example) to develop new drugs. Schools gain large-scale funding, new state-of-the-art research facilities, and an additional way to attract top-tier students. Pharmaceutical companies gain research personnel at a fraction of the cost, and researchers (either student or post-graduate) gain a prestigious entry on their resume. Pharmaceutical companies also influence professional medical practitioners with sizeable awards like research grants and fellowships, all the way down to free lunch. The video below is an entertaining yet factual glimpse at the world of pharmaceuticals and how sales tactics directly impact which drugs doctors prescribe.
However, drug reps are just sales people. That's it. They are not required to, and usually do not, have any medical or scientific background other than the sales training provided by the drug company. Their primary objective is sales, in the form or prescriptions. Neither doctor nor rep gets paid based on patients feeling better, improved vitals, or decreased symptoms.
So if you are ever prescribed a pharmaceutical, don't be afraid to ask questions. Familiarize yourself with the drug's benefits as well as all side effects and contra-indications by researching online. Most physicians assume patients are not willing to make lifestyle and dietary changes, and rarely present any other option than drugs (or surgery in more extreme cases). Once prescribed, there is usually no plan for patients to stop taking the drug. If you are willing to change your personal habits to improve your health, let your doctor know and ask for assistance.