Financial Times breaks embargo on Science tenofovir anti-HIV microbicide study
As the International AIDS Conference in Vienna — and its attendant frenzy of news coverage — gets into full swing, the Financial Times broke the embargo today on a Science study of a tenofovir-based microbicide gel designed to prevent HIV. The paper’s embargo was scheduled to lift at 7 a.m. U.S. Eastern Tuesday (tomorrow).
At about 1:30 Eastern today, AAAS/Science sent out the following message:
Science is lifting the embargo, effective immediately, on the paper, “Effectiveness and Safety of Tenofovir Gel, an Antiretroviral Microbicide, for the Prevention of HIV Infection in Women,” by Abdool Karim et al., due to the publication of a story by Andrew Jack of the Financial Times and subsequent stories responding to that coverage.
The note goes on to say that the embargo is still the regular 2 p.m. Eastern Thursday for the rest of the Science content. The tenofovir study’s embargo was early to coincide with a presentation in Vienna.
An updated version of the story — but not the original — contained the following paragraph, which acknowledges the upcoming publication but attributes the data to people knowledgeable about the study, rather than the paper itself:
The journal Science is due to release the full findings on Tuesday but two people breifed on the study said it showed that in patients who took the microbicide consistently, it cut HIV infection by 39 per cent, rising to 54 per cent among those who were consistently using it in line with instructions.
I emailed the AAAS/Science office to find out more about the circumstances of the break, and they said they would be able to say more later this week, so I’ll update when I hear from them again. (Update 2 p.m. Eastern, 7/21/10: Please see comment from AAAS’ Ginger Pinholster below for lots of helpful details, including one that prompted me to correct the paragraph describing the quotation above. Upshot: “Upon investigation, we were unable to find any evidence, based on EurekAlert! records, that the Financial Times obtained their information from us.”)
Thanks to a number of people who let me know about the break by email and Twitter. I got the email from AAAS/Science too, of course, but the entire Embargo Watch staff was tied up today on a family matter — yes, we are all related — so am just getting to this now.
See update in new post, and the FT’s Andrew Jack’s comments, as well as a post about the IAS’ “freely available but embargoed” policy.