If you were watching CNBC throughout the day yesterday, you might have noticed that my exclusive interview with Elan CEO Kelly Martin took place inside Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD), but my afternoon interview with MedivationCEO Dr. David Hung was outside. It wasn't because I chose to move from the air-conditioned comfort of the hall to the hot, muggy concrete patio overlooking a busy thoroughfare.
Yep. The Alzheimer's Association kicked us out. You may recall thatI got kicked out of ASCO(American Society of Clinical Oncology) too. Here's what happened this time. The scientific data out of BAX and MDVN were being presented publicly at ICAD yesterday at 1:30 pm ET, which is when I went on the air with the breaking news.
Doctors, scientists, researchers, caregivers, drug company employees, analysts, investors, you name it could all see and hear the clinical trial results at that time. And I can tell you that Wall Street was well represented at the conference. Analysts and investors were all over the place and, of course, with their cell phones and BlackBerrys in hand.
But--and this is a big but--AA was keeping the same exact data under a news media embargo until 4 pm ET. So, in other words, the organization was asking the media to withhold reporting information that was being presented in a public forum for two-and-a-half hours!
As a financial reporter, I can't do that. It's a disservice to our viewers who are entitled to the same information in as close to real time as possible that a select group of analysts and investors are getting simply because they happen to be at the venue and communicating with their clients and colleagues. I am not a securities lawyer or a securities law expert, but doesn't the AA embargo policy go against Reg FD (fair disclosure) that requires everyone to find out the same thing at the same time? Either lift your embargo when the data are presented or present the data when you want to lift your embargo.
The AA wasn't hearin' any of that. I was told to leave the building immediately otherwise security would be called and it "would get ugly." That's a quote from an AA staffer. It didn't get ugly. We quickly packed up all our stuff and moved outside. And if the silly embargo policy isn't changed and/or I don't get back in the AA's good graces, I'll be happy to be outside at their conference next year in Vienna or the one after that in Honolulu.
Until yesterday, I had never "broken" an embargo--if, indeed, you can call it that. I will continue to respect, obey and not violate all true embargoes.