July 12: Less than a year after the Study instituted by the National Institutes of Health in the USA with a budget of over $100 million for scientific clinical trials across 16 countries to establish once and for all the health benefits of wine, and considered as the Mother of all Wine and Health Studies conducted so far, abruptly came to end with NIH refusing to release more funds because of the controversy and debates it had raised, writes Subhash Arora
The National Institutes of Health used money from the alcohol industry to help pay for a study that ultimately was expected to cost over $100 million. It's legal for NIH to use industry money in addition to taxpayer dollars for research as long as certain rules are followed. However, an NIH investigation concluded last month that a small number of its employees had close contact with industry officials that crossed those lines.
‘Some of those interactions appeared to intentionally bias the study so that it would have a better chance of showing a benefit from moderate alcohol consumption’, said NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak.
Some outside experts who had reviewed the study plans had also raised concerns that it was too small and too short a Study to address the potential problems of a daily drink- such as an increased risk of cancer or heart failure, and not just potential benefits such as a lowered risk of a heart attack, according to the Report in New York Daily News
"Purely on scientific grounds, I never really quite understood why this trial was being done," Dr. M. Roy Wilson of Wayne State University told NIH Director Francis Collins after hearing the investigation's conclusions. People including him who have a glass or two of wine don't do it for health reasons, he said." Collins pulled the plug last month, killing the Study completely.
The research was supposed to track 7,800 people who were assigned to take either a drink a day, or totally abstain, for several years. Only 105 people had enrolled till May 2018 when Collins temporarily suspended the study after a New York Times article first raised questions about the funding policy violations.
NIH had recently announced that policy violations regarding fundraising had compromised the study's integrity. An investigation by the advisory committee revealed frequent interaction between alcohol industry representatives and members of the research team. There appeared to be and intentional bias in the direction of demonstrating a beneficial health effect of moderate alcohol consumption. delWine has repeated decreed several Studies being conducted with the predisposed results of the positive nature in mind, the neutrality being compromised.
"NIH has strong policies that detail the standards of conduct for NIH employees, including prohibiting the solicitation of gifts and promoting fairness in the competitions for Grants. We take very seriously any violations of these standards," said Collins in a press release.
Dr. Curtis Ellison, the noted wine-and-health researcher and professor at Boston University School of Medicine was involved in the coining of term French Paradox in 1991 along with Prof. Serge Reynaud when the benefits of drinking a glass or two of red wine were highlighted. He was on the review panel for this study, and affirmed last year that the source of funding should not produce any bias in the outcome. "The investigators themselves do not have a good idea of what it will show, but will report accurately what they find," he said. "There are many NIH guarantees built in to assure that investigators will not have much of a chance to introduce much bias into the results."
But others argued that even when firm measures were taken against any sort of bias, it could still occur. "A large body of research demonstrates that industry-funded studies tend to come out with results favourable to the industry sponsor," Dr. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, according to Wine Spectator. This is not because the researchers are bought; the influence could be unconscious, he felt.
For an earlier related Article, please visit:
Mother of All Studies on Wine and Health to Start
If you Like this article please click on the Like button