Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Last week’s embargo breaks: ESMO T-DM1 study, IMS report on pharma sales growth

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Between my day job, teaching responsibilities, and a family celebration this past weekend, I’ve gotten slightly behind on cataloging embargo breaks. So with my apologies, here’s a quickie about two from last week.

On Friday afternoon, the European Society for Medical Oncology sent out a note to its press list about a study being presented at its 35th Congress in Milan:

From: ESMO Press Office <media@esmo.org>
Date: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM
Subject: Embargo lifted on ESMO release on T-DM1 abstract

The embargo on the T-DM1 study, presentation to be given by Dr Perez on Monday, 11 October 2010 at 15:30 at the 35th ESMO Congress Presidential Symposium has been broken, therefore we have lifted the embargo on this study.

ESMO is investigating the circumstances that led to this situation.



A new type of breast cancer treatment has shown encouraging activity as a first-line therapy in HER2-positive metastatic disease, researchers reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy.


There has been some buzz around the drug, Roche’s trastuzumab-DM1 (T-DM1), which has nothing to do with type 1 diabetes, it turns out. The FDA rejected the company’s application to have the drug reviewed more quickly in August, covered well here by Sally Church. I asked ESMO this morning for any updates, and they responded:

The embargo was broken by a financial analyst, whose name we don’t know.

And we are investigating to find out how he got to see the information that was contained in the abstract at a time when the abstracts were not publicly available.

We will issue a note asap on http://www.esmo.org/newsroom.

See update at end of this post.

You may remember an Embargo Watch post from July about why Wall Street analysts could write about a NEJM study about a study before the news media could. I will of course update as I hear more.

The other break I’ve heard about last week involved a report on drug market growth from pharmaceutical data giant IMS. The report was embargoed for midnight Monday night Eastern time, but MarketWatch ran a release on it at 8:38 p.m. Monday.

Thanks as always to Embargo Watch tipsters, including Sally Church, for alerting me to the breaks.

Update, 11:45 a.m. Eastern, 10/13/10: After seeing a link to this post on Twitter, TheStreet.com’s Adam Feuerstein tweeted that he was the one whose story ESMO was talking about. (It was originally posted at about 11 a.m. Eastern Friday, but later updated.) I called him for comment:

I got the information about T-DM1 independently. I wasn’t attending ESMO, I wasn’t under any ESMO embargo, therefore I reported the story. If you have a problem with that, deal with it.

That’s what Feuerstein told ESMO. He also noted in his story that Reuters had run an item in which Roche CEO Severin Schwan said the data was “stunning,” although he did not discuss the data specifically.

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 13, 2010 at 11:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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