NIH investigating study on the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption that was funded by beverage manufacturers

The National Institutes of Health is "aggressively" reviewing reports that it sought funding from alcoholic beverage manufacturers in support of its study on the benefits of moderate drinking, according to The Hill.

A New York Times story showed NIH officials actively solicited donations from the alcohol industry to fund a $100 million study on the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. This contrasts from a separate NYT report from one year prior that found five of the world's largest alcohol manufacturers donated at least $68 million to the study.

Public health advocates argue the fundraising violates NIH policy and undermines the public's trust in the institution.  

"The fact that the NIH accepted nearly $70 million from the alcoholic beverage industry to fund the alcohol study was bad enough," Michael Carome, MD, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, told The Hill. "But the shocking disclosures about senior NIH officials orchestrating an aggressive campaign to solicit such industry funding in violation of longstanding NIH policy, if confirmed, clearly undermines public trust in the NIH."

NIH is working to figure out who was involved in the study and what the involvement with the alcohol industry entailed. NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said he formed a working group to analyze the study and determine whether it justifies the funds.

"We are looking at this in a very aggressive way," he said during a Congressional hearing, according to The Hill.

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