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The IFT does not have its own budget for research. All research projects are financed by project-specific grants or commissions. This reliance on external funding does in principle place the Institute at risk of being influenced by the interests of the funding entity and therefore requires a special degree of sensitivity on the part of the management and employees of the Institute as well as transparency regarding the providers of funding and any existing conditions pertaining to particular projects. The right to independent interpretation and publication of the research findings is of paramount importance to IFT.

In principle, the risk of undue influence applies equally in respect of public and private (commercial) entities providing funds to the IFT. This applies, for example, in the area of gambling as public authorities hold a gambling monopoly (German Laender) and/or control the gambling market, something in which there is a considerable public interest. In practice, there are differences:

1. Sources of finance for research work

1.1 Public funding

The public bodies which fund the IFT have very different rules for the granting of finances for purposes of research projects. As far as support from Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds (DLR) is concerned, there is complete independence in respect of questions, planning, scientific evaluation, interpretation and publication of the findings. Relevant questions are selected by employees of the Institute, projects are planned independently and approved by the ministry according to international standards.

As far as the remaining federal and Laender authorities are concerned, the topic or the general aim is stipulated (e.g. further development and annual statistical evaluation of the documentation of addiction support or conducting a representative survey on substance abuse in the population). Specific hypotheses, study design, statistical analysis, interpretation and publication of the findings are not contractually restricted, however, and are at the total discretion of the Institute.

1.2 Commercial funding

The proportion of funds coming from commercial entities in the budget of the Institute has been very small since its founding in 1973. As the financing comes predominantly from organisations or companies which manufacturer or distribute psychoactive substances (e.g. alcohol industry or pharmaceutical industry) or which are active in the area of gambling and due to the internationally known cases of scientists being influenced by business, particular care must be taken in this area. The IFT does not fundamentally reject funds from commercial sources, however it is aware of its special responsibility in this area. In times of scarce and even decreasing public research funds, as well as the direct call from politics greatly to expand research supported by external funds or financed by industry - even as a sign of personal research quality - it is almost impossible to do without such sources of funding completely. The Institute has set itself the following rules in this context:

  • Research requests (i.e. to conduct a study on a defined question) are only accepted if (1) the question is formulated globally (e.g. extent of abuse of a medicinal product in the population) and not in a particular direction (e.g. the study is supposed to show that a certain behaviour poses no risk to the population) and if (2) the free and uninfluenced further design of the study is assured.
  • The requirement for accepting funds from industry is still the own formulation of the research objectives, hypotheses and the research methodology as well as the uninfluenced statistical evaluation, interpretation and publication of the findings. Any money must be granted to the IFT as unrestricted research funding.
  • Currently there is no acceptance of financial grants for research projects by the tobacco industry (reasoning: unilateral influencing of scientists and scientific findings over many years).
  • A single commercial financing organisation may not contribute more than 10% to the total budget, all commercial organisations together may not contribute more than 20% (these limits have so far never been reached, the normal value is between 0% and 5% per year). All findings are made available to the public through publication.
  • Financial assistance and any possible conflicts of interest associated with it are declared in the project information on the IFT website as well as in respect of the individual publications.

 1.3 Financing through institutions in the grey area between public bodies and commercial enterprises

Such institutions include, for example, charities, health insurers and industry associations. Usually, such organisations can be attributed to either the public or commercial sector. The IFT then applies the relevant rules accordingly.

2. Past funding organisations

2.1 Public funding 

The IFT has been active in the field of applied research in the areas of epidemiology, prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, eating disorders, adipositas and pathological gambling since 1973. The annual budget is financed primarily from public bodies, such as the German Federal Ministry of Health, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Laender ministries, health insurers and European bodies. 140 research projects have been funded in this way.

2.2 Commercial funding (last 5 years)

The proportion of commercial (industrial) financing has amounted to between 0% and 5% of the annual budget (2013: 4 %). The following projects have been financed by pharmaceutical industry grants:

  • Maturing out: The role of internal and external control mechanisms in daily situations of subtypes of smokers and their implications for treatment (Pfizer Inc.; Dr. Bühler).

  • Expertise on alcohol dependency in Germany: epidemiology, healthcare and abstinence focus in treatment (Lundbeck GmbH; Prof. Kraus).   

Gambling industry:

  • No commercial funding. There are two funding projects which relate to public facilities but for which conflicting commercial interests of the funding entities could possibly exist:
  • Evaluation of the Amendment to the German Gaming Regulation in respect of the issue of pathological gambling (German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology; Prof. Bühringer).

  • Research work in the scope of the State Office for Gambling Addiction in Bavaria (LSG; see www.lsgbayern.de) (Bavarian Ministry for Environment and Health; Prof. Kraus, Prof. Bühringer).

3. Further developments

The IFT endeavours to improve and continuously develop its rules on commercially funded research. The International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE - www.isaje.net) is currently striving, together with other scientists, to develop a sort of "Charter" for conducting research projects with commercial funding in order to provide external controls in addition to the internal responsibility and controls.

Contact

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80804 München
Tel. +49 89 360804-0
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Contact

IFT Institut für Therapieforschung
Leopoldstraße 175
80804 München

Tel. +49 89 360804-0
Fax +49 89 360804-19
Email: ift@ift.de