Anheuser-Busch pulls funding from moderate drinking study over credibility concerns

Anheuser-Busch InBev decided to pull funding from a long-term study of moderate alcohol intake and its effects on cardiovascular health after concerns were raised about the objectivity of the research.

The brewing titan had committed $15.4 million to the project, to be paid in annual installments over 10 years, according to The New York Times. Payments began three years ago.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) opted to halt the $100 million study in May after a New York Times story alleged two scientists and a federal health official pitched the idea to liquor company executives, suggesting it would paint moderate drinking in a favorable light. Five beverage companies, including Anheuser-Busch, planned to contribute about $66 million to the study.

“Unfortunately, recent questions raised around the study could undermine its lasting credibility, which is why we have decided to end our funding,” Andrés Peñate, global vice president for regulatory and public policy for AB InBev, wrote in a letter to Maria C. Friere, PhD, president and executive director of the Foundation for the NIH.

The study was supposed to answer questions about alcohol’s impact on heart disease, diabetes and cognitive impairment. It was due to enroll about 7,800 participants at high risk for heart disease—half of whom would abstain from alcohol and half of whom would have one drink per day.

The NIH is performing reviews to determine if there were any irregularities in the fundraising process and to evaluate the scientific merit of the study.

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