Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

It’s ASCO time: Cancer group announces its embargoed press program

with 3 comments

Ordinarily, you won’t catch me writing an item or story about a press release, or even based solely on a press release. In fact, I rail against such practices when it comes to clinical studies.

But here at Embargo Watch, there’s at least one release worth writing a post on: The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s, or ASCO’s.

Many of you are probably familiar with ASCO, whose annual meetings routinely draw more than 20,000 oncologists. According to the society’s press release yesterday, that number is expected to be more than 30,000 this year when the group meets in Chicago.

I found that press release, titled “”ASCO Announces Embargoed Press Program for 2010 Annual Meeting,” a bit confusing. The release’s header was “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2010,” but it included mentions of specific embargoed abstracts and press briefings, albeit with any data.

We’re all a bit cautious about ASCO since people started realizing a few years ago that stock prices were mysteriously moving between the time that embargoed press material was released, and the embargo lifted. You can guess why. This is a big meeting, that has the potential to move a lot of stock prices, so the “ASCO effect” led the group to change how they release their conference abstracts.

I wasn’t the only one confused by yesterday’s release, based on an exchange I had with another journalist. So I checked, and found out that yes, the contents of the release were meant for public consumption.

That means stories like this 2004 one from Forbes’ Matthew Herper will begin to appear shortly, previewing the meeting but not disclosing any results. Those results won’t even be available on an embargoed basis until May 20, according to yesterday’s release, which highlighted 20 studies being presented, including ones on screening for ovarian cancer, yoga’s effects on cancer survivors, and on lenalidomide (Revlimid) and other drugs.

I’ll be keeping an eye on news about ASCO abstracts in the run-up to the meeting, which begins June 4. I hope Embargo Watch readers will do the same, and alert me to anything worth looking into.


Written by Ivan Oransky

April 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. Hah! I’m glad I’m not the only one who was confused about ‘for immediate release’ and ’embargoed’ in the same document!!

    Thanks for the clarification, Ivan.


    April 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

  2. So is it 20,000 or 30,000 attendees? That’s a pretty significant gap. ASCO’s been throwing around the 30,000 number for a while; has it never been verified?


    May 7, 2010 at 9:28 am

  3. It depends on the prevailing circumstances such as wars and volcanoes, Joseph.

    Having been going for 15 years, I’d say approx. 30,000 in a good year with no disasters is fair.


    May 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

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