Letter: Alcohol Policy, the Influence of the Drinks Lobby and the Ethics of Academic Research

Article excerpt

Sir: Leonard Doyle states that I have been active in opposing the "World Health Organisation's advice on safe drinking". This is incorrect. Indeed, for many years I have worked as an adviser to the World Health Organisation. I was a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Committee which in 1986 recommended these guidelines. I recently submitted written evidence to the Department of Health opposing any change in current advice.

As the record of the Alcohol Research Group (ARG) clearly demonstrates, much of our activity and most of our publications have related to the use of alcohol and to its associated problems. In accordance with standard procedures, all journal articles and books by members of the ARG have acknowledged related sources of funding. Details are further elaborated in the ARG's annual reports.

The Alcohol Research Group was established in 1978 by the provision of core funding by the Scotch Whisky Association. This support was given to the University of Edinburgh on the clear understanding that there were no strings attached and that the ARG was to be completely free to operate. The Portman Group took over this core funding in 1990 with the same written guarantee of freedom. Throughout this period the ARG has been left to conduct its work without any form of interference or impediment whatever.

The activities of the Alcohol Research Group have been supported by the World Health Organisation, charities, research councils and by government departments. …