GEMMA MITCHELL, ph.d. & JIM McCAMBRIDGE, ph.d.; JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL AND DRUGS / JANUARY 2023
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent and nature of email interactions between National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) leaders and the alcohol industry from 2013 to 2020. Method: We performed a thematic content analysis of 4,784 pages of email correspondence obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests to the National Institutes of Health on three senior NIAAA staff members.
Results: A total of 43 NIAAA staff were identified interacting with 15 industry bodies (companies and other organizations). NIAAA leaders provided industry with extensive information about scientific and policy developments. Discussions were facilitated by the willingness of NIAAA leaders to meet with industry and have other informal contacts, as well as NIAAA leadership presence at industry-sponsored and other events. Key industry actors asked NIAAA leaders for help on science and policy issues. At times, NIAAA leaders heavily criticized public health research and researchers in correspondence with industry.
Conclusions: Institutional practices of engagement with the alcohol industry have been sustained by NIAAA leaders’ activity. There is an urgent need to better understand the extent to which commercial rather than public health interests have shaped alcohol research agendas, both within and beyond NIAAA. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 84, 000–000, 2023)