Article title: The alcohol industry’s never-ending interest in research and policy
In March 2018, the US media started to unfold an alarming story on potential bias in science funding. By now, most alcohol researchers have heard about the ten-year MACH 15 clinical trial investigating whether a daily drink leads to better health in older males at risk of heart disease. The study has become famous for its scope, method, and the fact that leading beverage producers have contributed USD 67.7 million out of a total budget of 100 million dollars. The contributions by Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, and Carlsberg are channeled through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, which is an independent non-profit body that raises funds to support NIH research. . The money is disseminated by one of the 27 NIH centers, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the leading alcohol research funding agency. In the March, The New York Times broke the news that officials at the NIAAA had solicited funding for the MACH 15. The newspaper revealed that NIAAA officials had in fact, and against NIH regulations, courted the alcohol industry in late 2013 and early 2014 to fund the ten-year study. The global alcohol industry’s great interest in policy and research never rests. For the general public it may be close to impossible to identify and interpret stakeholders’ and senders’ intentions of the NIH study. This editorial summarizes that perhaps a simple rule of thumb to follow is that, just as the public health community has no business to tell the alcohol industry how to brew its beer and distil its alcohol, the alcohol industry has no business influencing publicly funded alcohol research and public health policy.
The alcohol industry’s never-ending interest in research and policy
First Published 8 Jun 2018
Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs