A huge study on the possible health benefits of drinking alcohol will be completely shut down, because its credibility was compromised by frequent and early interactions between alcohol industry executives, scientists and government officials.
That was the decision made by Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. "Is it even possible at this point that the results of such a trial would have sufficient credibility to influence anybody's decision-making?" asked Collins. "That does, in fact, seem quite doubtful."
George Koob, director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which partly funded the trial, agreed. "I feel that the trial is irrevocably damaged," said Koob, at a meeting of an advisory committee that gives advice to the NIH director.
The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial was designed to follow over 7,000 people for years, at a cost of around $100 million. Half of the study's participants would be instructed to abstain from alcohol, while the other half would be told to have a drink every day. The study was being funded in part by major players in the alcohol industry, through a nonprofit foundation linked to the NIH.