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It’s rare for officials at the National Institutes of Health to summon university scientists from hundreds of miles away. So when Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University and a colleague got the call to meet with the director of NIH’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, he said, “I knew we were in trouble.”

He never imagined, however, that at the 2015 meeting the director, George Koob, would leap out of his seat and scream at the scientists after their PowerPoint presentation on research the agency had eagerly funded on the association between alcohol marketing and underage drinking. “I don’t f***ing care!” Koob yelled, referring to alcohol advertising, according to the scientists.

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  • Two points: 1.) remember that NIAAA was fighting to keep its independence not long before this. It was supposed to merged with big bro NIDA but it’s consituency waged a serious lobbying campaign to stay an independent IC. Koob no doubt was on edge to get that industry funding and show what kind of private $ his IC could bring in. 2.) is the film industry ready for the similar results that show early exposure to ultraviolent movies and pop culture drive similar behavior in youths?

  • I lost my 43 year old husband to alcohol addiction, and know what a behemoth monster drives our society’s ignorance of the causes and possible treatments of it are. We know that genetic, social, and family dynamics all work together to create an environment where addiction will thrive or flounder. We need to know more.

    We pounced on cigarettes, but alcohol has skated by without a scratch. It’s time for that to change. We need to take a hard look what is healthy without the influence of the alcohol industry. That should be a no-brainer. Would we really think we were getting good data if Phillip Morris funded cigarette research, or the Beef Association funded a study on meat in our diet? Of course not. Koob needs to go. His loyalties clearly do not fall on the side of the American public. He should be ashamed. And if he has been doing what it looks like he’s been doing, he should be in prison.

  • Very sad to read that a scientist I looked up to like George Koob has been bought by the Alcohol business. Makes me question all his past work!

  • Imagine that alcohol was not available as booze and a pharma company submitted it to the FDA as a heart medication. The FDA would not approve it. There are plenty of safer alternatives: low-dose aspirin, generic Plavix, triflusal (if the FDA ever approves it), statins, many foods high in antioxidants, etc.

    The booze lobby clings for dear life to a claim that alcohol increases HDL cholesterol. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about HDL, “High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream.” But raising HDL through healthy eating or certain medications is one thing. Raising it by drinking alcohol is an entirely different matter. Animal studies do not confirm that alcohol lowers other cholesterol (LDL and VLDL). If a person has a cholesterol problem not solved by healthy eating, taking a statin or other medication is the logical approach, not drinking alcohol.

  • No surprise here. It is called corruption. I helped pass the 21 Minimum Drinking Age bill in 1984. We saw the same things then. The alcohol industry gives money to a federal agency and the agency produces a study favorable to the industry. What do you expect them to do?

  • Which other industry suffers from the same type of conflict of interest between the government “watchdog”and the industry:

    A. Gun lobby (on assault weapons)
    B. Big Pharma (on opiods)
    C. Big Oil (on global warming)
    D. Tobacco (on cancer)
    E. ALL OF THE ABOVE

    Hint- the answer might be in all caps.

    • Add the dental lobby to the top of the list (on mercury dental amalgam not harming patients).

    • Try Corning silicone materials (on breast prosthetics industry regardless of ruptures, rheumatoid, scleroderma & upper trunk complications).

    • Try the wind, solar,ethanol, bio fuels, military procurement.
      WHO just retracted a medical study it had been using as a guideline since 2014 because according to WHO the paper has “no scientific validity”
      It’s the way our government works in modern times (or doesn’t work)

  • About 10 years ago, NIH had a serious conflict of interest problem involving individual investigators, advisors, and I think at least one institute director. https://www.nature.com/articles/427187b. I guess NIH director Francis Collins has forgotten or doesn’t understand the seriousness violation of the public trust involved in this?

  • Guess this is what happens when people are no longer interested in

    ********* NOBILITY OF CHARACTER, INTEGRITY, COMPASSION, HONESTY **********

    maybe our schools should go back to teaching the Greek classics, the Enlightenment that helped give birth to our country, and many others, since so many families DON’T.

  • As a reminder, these NIH and NIAAA studies are taxpayer funded, right? As a taxpayer, I am outraged at yet another example of absolute corruption due to industry funding and influence.

    • Donors and recipients were both guilty. One bribes, the other collects. Industry was aiming to broaden their markets, increase profits, and reward their stockholders. NIH and federal officials were supposed to be above such conflicts of interest. NIH officials were paid well by taxpayers to render independent evaluations for science, medicine, and public health. Money and power corrupts all parties.

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