Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for June 2011

Unprecedented? Archives of Internal Medicine yanks transcendental meditation paper 12 minutes before it’s scheduled to publish

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There’s a highly unusual situation brewing at the Archives of Internal Medicine. At 3:48 Eastern time on Monday, 12 minutes before the embargo lifted on the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the following message went out from its press office:

The editorial office of the Archives of Internal Medicine has made the decision not to publish,  “Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in African Americans,” by Schneider et al, and the accompanying Commentary by Mehta and Bairey Merz that was to post Online First at 3 PM central time today.

The decision is to allow time for review and statistical analysis of additional data not included in the original paper that the authors provided less than 24 hours before posting.  We apologize for the short notice, but hope you will understand and not run your stories on this study today.

We asked Archives of Internal Medicine editor Rita Redberg when the paper might be published: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Wait, Guardian bloggers shouldn’t get access to Nature’s embargoed materials? A guest post by Martin Robbins

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One of the issues that comes up regularly on Embargo Watch is who gets access to embargoed materials. Earlier this year, for example, EurekAlert suspended io9.com’s access, then reinstated it. Today, I’m pleased to present a guest post from Martin Robbins, a UK-based researcher and science writer for outlets including The Guardian who also edits The Lay Scientist. Below, Robbins describes a frustrating experience trying to obtain access to embargoed studies at Nature — a journal for whom he’s written.

courtesy Martin Robbins

It was February 2010, and Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee was about to launch a devastating report on homeopathy. I wanted to attend the press briefing, coordinated by the Science Media Centre (SMC) — a reasonable request since I had reported on the topic extensively for the Guardian as a freelancer – but I was a blogger, no matter how much Guardian lipstick I wore, and they did not want bloggers attending. It wasn’t until I aroused a small-but-indignant mob on Twitter that they backed down and sent me an invite.

That summer I had an opportunity to question SMC head Fiona Fox at a science journalism conference in London. I asked her about their attitude to bloggers, and she told me that in essence they didn’t know who bloggers were, or whether they could trust them.  Let bloggers in to press briefings, she suggested, and you could end up with all sorts of strange people turning up. I protested: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Archives of Dermatology breaks its own embargo

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Did you notice a somewhat unusual email from the Archives of Dermatology earlier today, with a list of “Online First” articles that had just gone live — on a Thursday, rather than the usual Monday?

Well, that was a goof, the journal said in an email sent out a few minutes ago to its press list: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

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A nightmare of a policy: American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes “freely available but embargoed”

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The American Academy of Sleep Medicine pulled an Embargo Watch no-no for the press releases for its annual conference, which wraps up today in Minneapolis: They made the releases freely available on their site some weeks ago, but said they were embargoed for various times between Monday and today.

I didn’t think this was a tenable policy, so I asked the Academy for their rationale. The Academy’s Thomas Heffron responded: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 15, 2011 at 10:48 am

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FDA makes the right move, reversing itself and letting reporters speak to sources before embargo lifts

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In January, Embargo Watch reported that the FDA had told reporters they couldn’t speak to outside sources about a medical device approval announcement until the embargo had lifted. I argued that such an approach would turn journalists into stenographers.

The Association of Health Care Journalists board of directors — of which, in full disclosure, I am a member — agreed, and sent a strongly worded letter to the agency in February. Yesterday, the FDA wrote back, laying out the rationale for its policy. The important sentence is here, where it reverses the approach it took in January: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

It’s ASCO time: USA Today breaks NEJM embargoes on vemurafenib and ipilimumab studies, but no sanctions. Plus: Ingelfinger!

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The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting runs through tomorrow, and generated an embargo break this weekend when USA Today ran a story about melanoma treatments before the embargo had lifted. According to a message at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which was publishing the studies in question:

We are lifting the embargo immediately for the Original Articles, “Improved Survival with Vemurafenib in Melanoma with BRAF V600E Mutation,” and “Ipilimumab plus Dacarbazine for Previously Untreated Metastatic Melanoma;” and editorial, “Been There, Not Done That — Melanoma in the Age of Molecular Therapy,” following a story that appeared on USA Today’s website. This content will be published on NEJM.org as soon as possible.

Here’s the handout ASCO provided media at the meeting, courtesy Sally Church. ASCO also put a release out on the wires.

The break was “a mistake,” NEJM tells Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Politico breaks yet another embargo, this one of an Institute of Medicine report

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An email that went out to Institute of Medicine’s press list at 11:15 a.m. Eastern yesterday:

Hello, after learning that Politico posted a blurb about the IOM report on geographic adjustments to Medicare payments this morning ahead of the embargo lift, the Institute of Medicine is lifting the embargo immediately. We will still hold the public briefing as planned at 1:00 p.m. ET in the National Press Club. If you wish to speak with a member of the authoring committee between now and 1:00 p.m., please give me a call on my mobile xxx-xxx-xxxx or drop me an email which I’ll receive on my blackberry. We regret the inconvenience this poses to you.

This means that Politico has now broken at least three embargoes since Embargo Watch was launched early last year. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized