NIH suspends study on benefits of alcohol after questions about industry involvement

NIH suspends study on benefits of alcohol after questions about industry involvement
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suspended a study into the benefits of moderate drinking following reports that agency officials lobbied the alcohol beverage industry to fund it. 

NIH Director Francis Collins said Thursday enrollment in the study was halted a week ago as officials investigate how funding was raised. 

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"This particular study was set up in such a way that the funding was largely coming from the beverage industry, and there is evidence that NIH employees assisted in receiving those funds for this study in a way that would violate our usual policies," Collins said at a Senate hearing Thursday on the NIH budget request. 

“For NIH, our reputation is so critical. And if we are putting ourselves in a circumstance where that could be called into question, I felt like we had to look at that very seriously and come up with another strategy."

Collins said NIH is trying to decide if the study is worth continuing. 

Concerns were raised after a recent New York Times story claimed NIH officials directly solicited donations from alcoholic beverage manufacturers to fund a $100 million study on the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. 

The Times reported last year that five of the world's largest alcohol manufacturers pledged at least $68 million to fund the study, but a Times story published earlier this month showed NIH officials actively campaigned for the funding, which could violate the agency's policies.