Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Facing criticism, EASL changes its embargo policy — and earns a spot on the Embargo Watch Honor Roll

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Yesterday, I criticized a strange embargo policy in place for an upcoming European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) conference. That policy, which drew Adam Feuerstein’s ire along with mine, allowed anyone who had paid to attend the April conference — including investors — to get abstracts this week, while they were still under embargo.

This morning, in an email to its press list, the EASL announced it was changing the policy:

In response to concerns raised with EASL’s abstract availability and embargo policy for the International Liver Congress™ 2012, EASL has taken the decision to review both policies and will delay making the abstracts available online until two weeks in advance of the opening of the Congress – Wednesday, 04 April 2012.

EASL is making these changes in light of recent criticism of its proposed policy, which suggests that ‘selective distribution’ of officially accepted clinical data in advance of the Congress would make our proposed embargo policy untenable.

EASL accepts that we must address this issue, and we acknowledge the efforts of several individuals to draw this to our attention.

To preserve the integrity of The International Liver Congress™ 2012 for our members and industry sponsors, the EASL Secretary General has made the decision to review and amend the abstract availability and embargo policy.

As such, abstracts will be made publicly available on the congress website two weeks in advance of the congress and will not be under embargo. Abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials will be made publicly available on the congress website at 1800 (CET) on the day of their presentation, and are under embargo until the date and time of their presentation.

Authors of abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials will be informed of their selection this week.

Do please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Kudos, EASL, for heeding criticism and acting swiftly. The new policy avoids “freely available but embargoed,” which was a problem last year, and fixes the selective disclosure issue too. For that, EASL earns a place on the Embargo Watch Honor Roll.

Here’s the updated policy:

UPDATED International Liver Congress™ 2012 EMBARGO POLICY

International Liver Congress™ 2012 abstracts will be made publicly available on the congress website two weeks in advance of the congress – Wednesday, 04 April 2012. Abstracts posted online on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 are NOT under embargo.

Abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials will be made publicly available on the congress website at 1800 (CET) on the day of their presentation at the congress. Abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials are under embargo until the date and time of their presentation at the congress.

On Wednesday, 04 April 2012 industry may issue a press release announcing that their abstract has been selected for inclusion in official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials (abstract title only). Industry must not issue press releases ‑ even under embargo ‑ covering the data contained in abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials until the individual embargo for each data set lifts.

Media must not issue coverage of the data contained in abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials until the individual embargo for each data set lifts.

Journalists, industry, investigators and/or study sponsors must abide by the embargo times set by EASL.

Violation of the embargo will be taken seriously. Individuals and/or sponsors who violate EASL’s embargo policies may face sanctions relating to current and future abstract submissions, presentations and visibility at EASL Congresses. The EASL Governing Board is at liberty to ban attendance and/or retract data.

Copyright for abstracts (both oral and poster) on the website and as made available during The International Liver Congress™ 2012 resides with the respective authors. No reproduction, re-use or transcription for any commercial purpose or use of the content is permitted without the written permission of the authors. Permission for re-use must be obtained directly from the author.

Update, 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 3/22/12: ForbesMatthew Herper asked whether this meant abstracts selected for presentation would be embargoed until they were presented, or until 1800 CET on that day, likely a few hours later. EASL tells us:

…the abstracts selected to be highlighted during official EASL Press Office activities or in official EASL Press Office materials will be made publicly available on the congress website at 1800 (CET) on the day of their presentation, and are under embargo until the date and time of their presentation. In other worlds the abstracts will not be disseminate to any third party before its presentation.

It’s still a bit odd that a company can announce that an abstract will be the subject of a press release, but not say anything about the results. That’s a bit like what the USPSTF did a few weeks ago with an announcement about cervical cancer screening, and it’s not typical. For example, this went out on top of a New England Journal of Medicine email to media this morning:

Please note that even the fact that we are planning to publish this material is confidential and any mention prior to the embargo lifting will be considered a breach.

Seems like something to keep an eye on.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

March 22, 2012 at 8:16 am

One Response

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  1. Let me add my praise. It was a good move, and appears to be as fair as it can possibly be.

    Jon Gardner

    March 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm


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