NEJM lifts c difficile embargo early after Montreal Gazette breaks it; Optimer stock spikes
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) lifted the embargo early on a study of a new drug for tough-to-treat intestinal infections today, after a Montreal Gazette story broke the embargo. From an email from the NEJM’s press office at 12:18 Eastern today:
We are lifting the embargo immediately for the Original Article, “Fidaxomicin versus Vancomycin for Clostridium difficile Infection,” and editorial, “The Search for Effective Treatment of Clostridium difficile Infection,” scheduled to appear in tomorrow’s February 3 issue. This article and editorial will be published on NEJM.org as soon as possible.
A story appeared in the Montreal Gazette this morning, based on information from an embargoed press release. This was not a violation by an NEJM advance-access media subscriber.
The embargo time for the remainder of the February 3 issue is still 5 PM ET today.
At least two things make this a bit more noteworthy than your garden-variety unintentional embargo break.
First, as NEJM’s Karen* Buckley’s email noted, the Montreal Gazette is not a NEJM media subscriber. The press release came from Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, Buckley told Embargo Watch by email. “The press release was properly marked as embargoed until 5 PM today,” she said. So the paper didn’t break a NEJM embargo. Buckley also told me:
We still communicate with the reporter responsible for the breach, and the person who sent out the press release. We have received apologies from both, and promises to revisit their safeguards to ensure that similar errors aren’t repeated.
Two, Optimer Pharmaceuticals’ stock spiked once the NEJM announced the embargo had lifted, as Forbes’ Matt Herper told me on Twitter. That suggests either that there were investors who hadn’t heard about the findings until the embargo lifted, that an embargo lift can drive stock price, or some other explanation that I’m sure more Wall Street-savvy readers will give me.
Hat tip: Charles Ornstein.
Updated 3:45 p.m. Eastern, 2/2/11 to add “NEJM’s Karen” to sentence with an asterisk. Apologies for the omission.