Drop by any emergency room today and you'll find that one out of every three people who have injured themselves did so under the influence or with the help of alcohol. One study says that if you talk to those drunk and injured, there's a decent chance that beer that sent them reeling for medical care was Budweiser. This is quite a feat for the King of Beers since no one seems to be drinking it anymore.
"Though Budweiser has 9.1 percent of the national beer market, it represented 15 percent of the of the E.R. 'market.'" reports NBC News's Brian Alexander, gleaning information from a pilot study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "[P]ublic health experts estimate that about one-third of all injury-related ER visits involved alcohol consumption," Alexander adds.
The Hopkins pilot study is a look at not only how alcohol plays into emergency room visits, but also if the way a brand of alcohol is marketed affects people who get hurt. It could help public health experts see if there's a group that's more at risk for injury that others, or if there's a correlation between who's being targeted and who's getting injured. For example, if Budweiser is actively targeting young people and there's a sudden uptick in young people going to the emergency room because of Budweiser, studies like this could tell us a lot about the power of marketing. And for what it's worth, Budweiser has made a concerted effort into marketing to younger people in the past year.
There are some caveats though. The sample was small (105 people) and it took place in one hospital that was situated in a predominantly black neighborhood in Baltimore. An emergency room in, say, Malibu might yield a different result with different alcohol brands being named. The takeaway though, is that studies like this can be done even though organizations like the FTC and National Institute on Drug Abuse told the study's director, David Jernigan, that this type of research was impossible.
Update: Anheuser-Busch has responded to the article.
We are disappointed that the August 15 story,"Study: Bud Is the King of Beers...at the Emergency Room," did not take a more critical look at the validity of the study that was featured. This study was limited to only 105 patients at one hospital in one specific neighborhood in Baltimore. The study's director even acknowledged that no conclusions could be made about beer or malt liquor advertising, pricing, or even consumption since the scope of the study was too small.
While we appreciate that the reporter did note that this was a limited study, a deeper dive into the study's methodology should have been done to see if it was credible.
That said, we would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of industry leadership when it comes to promoting responsible drinking. In the past 30 years, our company and our wholesalers have invested more than $980 million in advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote responsible drinking and prevent underage drinking and drunk driving. We have strong partnerships among the industry, government, higher education and others to reduce alcohol misuse and will continue to work to be part of the solution.
VP, Corporate Social Responsibility
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.