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ResourcesHuman Research Ethics(US) Controversial alcohol study cancelled by US health agency – Nature (Sara Reardon | June 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) Controversial alcohol study cancelled by US health agency – Nature (Sara Reardon | June 2018)

 


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The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has terminated a controversial US$100-million study examining whether drinking small amounts of alcohol every day can improve health.

Further news about this now closed controversial study into alcohol consumption. Based on the allegations in the media you are left wondering what the various parties were thinking? This case could be used in professional development workshops to highlight how conflicts of interest can completely undermine the credibility of a project, the line of enquiry and those involved in a project.

The agency’s decision, announced on 15 June, came shortly after an NIH advisory council voted unanimously to end the trial. An agency investigation had found that NIH staff and outside researchers acted inappropriately by soliciting industry funding and biasing the grant-review process to favour specific scientists.
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Those findings would have undermined the study’s credibility if it had been allowed to proceed, said NIH director Francis Collins at the advisory-council meeting. “Is it even possible at this point that the results of this trial would have the credibility to influence anyone’s decision-making?” he asked. “That does in fact seem quite doubtful.”
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The study, which began enrolling participants in February 2018 under the auspices of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), included $67 million from 5 alcohol companies over 10 years. It came under fire in March after the New York Times reported that the study’s lead investigator — cardiovascular researcher Kenneth Mukamal of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts — and his collaborators had directly courted funding from the liquor industry in 2013 and 2014, before the study’s launch.
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