News & Opinion | May 18, 2018 12:39 pm

NIH Halts Controversial $100 Million, 10-Year Study on Benefits of Drinking

New York Times exposé found the research was funded in largely by the alcoholic-beverage industry.

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Bottles of beer on sale. (Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health has stopped a $100 million, 10-year study of moderate drinking that was in large part funded by the alcoholic-beverage industry, reports The Washington Post. The announcement reflects the seriousness of allegations that surfaced in recent news reports, including a story in March in The New York Times that said two scientists and a federal health official pitched the idea for the study to liquor company executives at a 2014 gathering in Palm Beach, Florida. The alcohol industry agreed to fund the research via a private foundation that supports the NIH.

The goal of the study, which surveyed 7,000 individuals, was to assess whether moderate drinking of a single drink a day, has a health benefit. Some research has found this level of alcohol intake has some positive health aspects, but the conclusions are controversial.

The NIH has ordered two reviews of the study. One, done by the Office of Management Assessment, will “determine if any process or conduct irregularities occurred with grants associated with the MACH Trial,” according to The Washington Post. The second review will be conducted by an advisory committee, which will examine the scientific merit of the study.