Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Federal Funds Misspent on Anti-Vaping Research

The Journal of the American Heart Association on February 18 retracted an article by Dharma Bhatta and Stanton Glantz.  As I documented earlier, Bhatta and Glantz published demonstrably false findings.  Details of the retraction were reported by USA Today’s Jayne O’Donnell, Ivan Oransky at Retraction Watch and Alex Norcia of Vice, among others.

The Bhatta-Glantz article states that “This work was supported by grants R01DA043950 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, P50CA180890 from the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products, U54HL147127 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products.”  Those grants, itemized below (Source, NIH RePORTER), probably funded additional research beyond the flawed vape heart attack study.

Federal Support of Retracted JAHA Article By Dharma Bhatta and Stanton Glantz

Federal Grant Number201720182019All Years



The $13.6 million are termed “direct costs,” the amount of money Dr. Glantz was awarded to conduct his research.  Each university negotiates an additional payment from NIH for facility and administrative (F&A) costs.  The rate for UCSF during the period was about 59%.  That means the federal government paid UCSF as much as $8 million more, a significant sum.

Still, that $13.6 million was only a fraction of the $51 million funneled from the National Institutes of Health to Glantz since 2005.  That funding supported 292 Glantz articles recorded in PubMed.

The next chart, courtesy of Clive Bates, illustrates Glantz's annual NIH funding since 1985.  Note the significant increase in 2013, which reflects the start of massive transfers from FDA to NIH of hundreds of millions in tobacco company user fees.

This body of taxpayer-supported work, universally anti-tobacco, anti-harm-reduction, is in keeping with the government’s stated objective “to create a world free of tobacco use.”  This prohibitionist mission supports thousands of NIH-funded researchers, and cows countless more into silence when they could be producing life-saving harm reduction data and analyses.

A true public health agenda would include federal support for honest research aimed at prolonging healthy lives, regardless of lifestyle.

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