Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Baxter, Biogen Idec & Elan Subjects of Broken Embargoes

I've blogged many times about the embargoes imposed by scientific groups and medical journals. If a media outlet breaks one -- something I have not done -- they risk losing the "privilege" of receiving the info ahead of time. And there's been a recent example of a prominent doctor who spoke too soon and has been barred for a while from publishing and reviewing studies in a peer-reviewed journal. Well, now at least one organization may take the enforcement a step further.

Reuters broke the story that three research analysts -- one at Merrill Lynch, another at Natexis Bleichroeder and the third at JPMorgan -- issued reports earlier this week with embargoed data from the upcoming American Academy of Neurology conference.

Two of the research notes to clients were about an experimental Alzheimer's drug from Baxter . And the other note focused on the MS drug Tysabri from BIIB and ELN .

Reuters says the JPM and Natexis reports were retracted or recalled and that Merrill declined to comment.

But a spokesperson for the AAN says the recall or retraction may not be sufficient and that the organization could possibly try to take some kind of legal action. Here's their statement:

“The American Academy of Neurology is disappointed that representatives of financial organizations have deliberately violated the Academy’s embargo policy. The violation has been referred to the Academy’s General Counsel who is currently exploring all options available to the Academy.”

The embargo issue keeps cropping up for the organizations and journals that are trying to protect their "scientific integrity" and potentially headline-making content while servicing the companies that often sponsor the research (and the conferences) and in which Wall Street has a vested interest.

It will once again be put to the test over the next couple of months when the most widely-followed conference by doctors, scientists, investors, reporters and analysts--the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting--employs a new policy this year with some of its data to try to satisfy everyone.

Questions?  Comments?