Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

AACR breaks its own AZURE embargo on Twitter

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This email went out a little after 1 Eastern today, about a half hour before the embargo on the much-awaited AZURE trial was scheduled to lift:

The embargo on the presentation of the AZURE trial at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium has been lifted due to an embargo break. Reporters and editors are free to run their stories. The press conference will continue as planned at 12:30 p.m. CT.

So who broke the embargo?

Well, um, it was the AACR.

A retweet of an @AACR one — now deleted — by the organization’s Tara Yates:

RT @aacr: Zoledronic acid did not improve disease-free survival in early breast cancer. #SABCS #AACR http://ow.ly/3muBJ

The organization’s Jeremy Moore confirmed for me by email that it was the group’s tweet that broke the embargo. [Update, 4 p.m. Eastern, 12/9/10: AACR’s associate director of public affairs emailed to tell me that “this error occurred due to a time zone issue.”]

For more on the trial, which was disappointing to those who were hoping that zoledronic acid (Zometa) would extend the lives of women with breast cancer, see my colleagues’ coverage.

The question of what it takes to get an embargo lifted early — specifically, one of a study published in AACR’s journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention — was the subject of an Embargo Watch post in June. Their embargoes were also the subject of this post, this one, and this one. In that first case, I was puzzled by the group’s decision to maintain an embargo, while the other three — as well as this one — were straightforward early lifts. I also praised a joint policy at the EORTC-NCI-AACR meeting in October.

We all make mistakes. Heck, I unintentionally broke an embargo on Twitter myself last year. It’s good of AACR to ‘fess up right away and lift the embargo early. But next time a journal or society gives a reporter grief for breaking an embargo, keep this little story in mind.

Hat tip: Sally Church. Read Sally’s smart-as-usual take on the trial.

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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