This paper aims to expand standard conceptions of current ethical issues by discussing pharmaceutical clinical trials in terms of the broader political economy. Specifically, it explores one important characteristic of the political economy in the United States: the trend towards the neoliberalization of health care. First, it provides an overview of neoliberalism and its manifestations in the health care sector. Then, it applies this perspective to pharmaceutical drug development. The paper argues that federal regulation must attend to the context of clinical research to protect human subjects more fully.