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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • alcohol beverage industry;
  • alcohol research;
  • conflict of interest;
  • competing interests;
  • ethics

ABSTRACT

Aims  This report argues that the growing involvement of the alcohol industry in scientific research needs to be acknowledged and addressed. It suggests a set of principles to guide ethical decision-making in the future.

Methods  We review relevant issues with regard to relationships between the alcohol industry and the international academic community, especially alcohol research scientists. The guiding principles proposed are modelled after expert committee statements, and describe the responsibilities of governmental agencies, the alcohol industry, journal editors and the academic community. These are followed by recommendations designed to inform individuals and institutions about current ‘best practices’ that are consistent with the principles.

Findings and conclusions  Growing evidence from the tobacco, pharmaceutical and medical fields suggests that financial interests of researchers may compromise their professional judgement and lead to research results that are biased in favour of commercial interests. It is recommended that the integrity of alcohol science is best served if all financial relationships with the alcoholic beverage industry are avoided. In cases where research funding, consulting, writing assignments and other activities are initiated, institutions, individuals and the alcoholic beverage industry itself are urged to follow appropriate guidelines that will increase the transparency and ethicality of such relationships.