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The alcohol company was set to contribute $15.4 million over a 10-year period for the study.

One major backer of a $100 million federal study related to alcohol consumption has pulled out due to surrounding controversy. 

According to the New York Times, Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgian-Brazilian brewing company, was to be one of five alcohol companies financially backing the study, which plans to examine the health benefits of consuming one daily drink. 

But on Friday, June 8, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced it would be withdrawing funding due to controversy around the study and the sponsorship. The company stated that the controversy would “undermine the study’s credibility,” according to the Times.

The announcement came via a letter to Dr. Maria C. Freire, who serves as the president and executive director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

According to the Times, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health is “a nongovernmental entity that is authorized to raise money from the private sector for NIH (National Institutes of Health) initiatives and manages the institutes’ public-private partnerships.”

In May, the NIH discontinued enrollment for the study due to reports that officials and scientists from the NIH met with alcohol companies to seek out funding and gave the impression that the study outcome would support moderate drinking habits. 

Nearly 25% of the funding for the study had been contributed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Times reports. Of the $66 million in funding, the company was contributing $15.4 million in payments over a 10-year period, beginning three years ago.  

Andrés Peñate, global vice president for regulatory and public policy for Anheuser-Busch InBev, stated in the letter that the company had initially decided to fund the study “because we believed it would yield valuable, science-based insights into the health effects of moderate drinking.”

He continued, “We had no role in the design or execution of this research; stringent firewalls were put in place with the Foundation for National Institutes of Health to safeguard the objectivity and independence of the science.”

The letter concluded, “Unfortunately, recent questions raised around the study could undermine its lasting credibility, which is why we have decided to end our funding.”

The study is expected to examine the potential effects of moderate drinking such as reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes and cognitive impairment. It is seeking out participation from 7,800 men and women with a high risk of heart disease.

During the study, half the group will be asked to not drink alcohol and the other half will be asked to have a single drink every day of the week. Participants would be followed for an average of six years. 

View the original article at thefix.com

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