The IFT does not have a guaranteed budget for its research activities, all projects are financed by grants or contracts. This complete dependence on third-party funds makes the institution fundamentally influenceable by the interests of funding agencies, and therefore requires a special sensitivity of the staff, as well as a comprehensive disclosure of funding sources and possibly existing influences on a specific project. The right for independent interpretation and publication of our research results has top priority in this context. As a general rule, all funding sources, public or private, and related possible conflicts of interest, are disclosed in publications as well as in project descriptions on our homepage.
In principle the risk of a problematic influence applies to public and private (commercial) funding sources of the IFT similarly. In practice there are differences.
1. Sources of funding
1.1 Public funding
The public funding organisations of the IFT have different rules for the allocation of financial resources to carry out research projects. The funding system of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) guarantees complete independence with regard to research questions, study designs as well as scientific analyses, interpretation and publication of results. Research projects are planned and submitted by IFT staff members, the Ministry has an independent scientific peer review system. The other federal and state agencies usually provide overall research questions (e.g.: conduct of a representative population survey on substance use disorders). But specific hypotheses, study design, statistical analyses, interpretation and publication of the results must not be restricted in the contract and de facto.
1.2 Funding from commercial sources
The proportion of industrial research funding within the financial budget of the institute is very low since the foundation of the IFT in 1973. But as the support is provided by organizations and companies, which produce or distribute psychoactive substances (e.g. alcohol or pharmaceutical industry) or are active in the gambling business (including private lottery companies licensed or held by the German States), and because of the internationally known incidents of scientific misconduct, specific carefulness is needed. The IFT rejects funding of research by commercial institutions not in principle, but is aware of the particular responsibility in this area. In times of short or even declining public research funding and direct demands of the public to cooperate with industry and to expand commercial third-party funds for research, it is hardly possible to abandon such sources of funding in principle. The institute has in this context the following rules:
- Research requests (i. e., to conduct a study on a given research question) will only be accepted if (1) the question is formulated globally and undirected (e.g.: extent of the abuse of a drug in the population) and not biased (such as: the study should demonstrate that a certain behaviour bears no risk for the population), if (2) the research question is scientifically relevant and if (3) the free and unrestricted further design of the study is guaranteed by the contract.
- Further precondition for accepting funding by industrial sources is the guaranteed independent formulation of the research objectives, hypotheses and the study methodology, and the unrestricted statistical analysis, interpretation and publication of results. The funds have to be granted to the IFT as unrestricted educational grants or donations.
- Currently, we do not accept funding of research projects by the tobacco industry (reasons: long lasting one-sided and unacceptable manipulation of scientists and scientific results).
- A single funding source must not contribute to more than 10 % of the annual budget, and all industrial funds should not excess 20 % (these limits have never been reached: The current contribution is about 2 %, and did not exceed 5 % in the past).
- All results will be published.
- Support from commercial sources are declared on the website of the IFT and in all relevant publications.
1.3 Funding in the “grey area” between public and commercial organisations
Examples are charitable organizations, (non-profit) health insurance companies, industrial associations. In most cases, these organizations are assignable to the public or the commercial sector. The IFT applies in each case the related rules.
2. Funding organisations in the last years
2.1 Public funding
Since 1973 the Institute is active in applied research in the fields of epidemiology, prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, eating disorders, obesity and pathological gambling. The annual budget of about 2.5 Million Euros is funded predominantly by public sources like the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, State Ministries, Public Health Insurances and EU-agencies. Funds for over 140 research projects have been granted from these sources.
2.2 Private funding
Private (industrial) sources cover around 0-5 % of the annual budget (currently 0 %).
Funds from the pharmaceutical industry have been assigned to the following projects:
- Training of course leaders in smoking cessation (2002/2003; Pharmacia)
- Monitoring of the abuse of Sibutramine (2003; Abbott)
- Comparative analyses of substitution medication (2004; Aventis).
The scientific planning of a conference on alcohol related disorders, commonly held by the Federal Government of Germany, the German Federal States and the alcohol industry, and the publication of the proceedings have been funded to one third by an organisation of the alcohol industry in 2001.
The gambling industry has funded the following projects:
- Epidemiological studies on the amount of gambling at slot machines (several funds between 1986 and 1997)
- Two longitudinal studies with gamblers to analyse risk factors and the course of gambling behaviour (1987-1990 and 1992-1995)
- Analysis of communalities and differences of different types of slot machines in gambling halls and gambling casinos (2004)
- Evaluation of the “social concept” (prevention of pathological gambling and handling of such cases) of the Casino Inc. of the State of Baden-Württemberg for the casino in Stuttgart (2004).
- Development of a monitoring system to analyse trends in the gambling behaviour in Germany and the utilisation of treatment services (until beginning of 2008). The population surveys and the analysis of treatment documentation systems, which are used for this monitoring system, are funded by the Federal Ministry of Health.
3. Lectures in the context of commercial organisations
- New EU Regulation on New Synthetic Drugs and Options to Monitor Misuse of Pharmaceutics when a Potential of Abuse Exists (Lecture, JJRWJ-333369 Abuse Liability Advisory Board Meeting; February 2005; Simon)
- Alcoholic beverages between pleasure, benefit and harm: Who bears the responsibility? (Lecture, May 2006, German Brewers Association; Prof. Bühringer)
- Overview on 20 years of research on pathological gambling (Lecture, May 2006; Associations of the German Vending Machine Industry and guests; Prof. Bühringer)
- Pathological gambling and prevention approaches (Lecture, October 2006, Dow Jones; participants from government agencies, commercial sports betting and the State Lottery Monopoly; Prof. Bühringer).
4. Future developments
The IFT is trying to enhance it’s guidelines on commercial-sponsored research constantly. The scientific director of the Institute is actively engaged in the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (www.isaje.net), which has been dealing with such issues for years. Currently, together with other scientists, he plans to develop a "charter” for the implementation of research projects with a commercial financing, in order to set up, in addition to internal regulations and control, further external control mechanisms.
(last modified on 30/9/2009)