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WSJ BLOG/Health: Medical Group Blinks Amid Criticism Over Drug-Data Disclosure

(This story has been posted on The Wall Street Journal Online's Health Blog at http://blogs.wsj.com/health.) By Peter Loftus A European medical society that hosts a major conference had planned to just let members and attendees -- including analysts and investors -- get an early look today at the results of some potentially market-moving studies. But after howls from critics saying that policy amounted to selective disclosure of data of Hepatitis C drugs being developed by Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences, the European Association for the Study of the Liver blinked, Dow Jones Newswires reports. The EASL now plans to publicly release summaries of most of the studies online on April 4, two weeks ahead of the meeting in Barcelona. Some won't be released until the April 18-22 event, but at the same time for everyone except media reporters, who'll get the typical early look to help them produce their stories. (EASL had planned to ban media registered to attend the meeting from reporting on the summaries until the event.) "EASL is making these changes in light of recent criticism of its proposed policy," the group said in a written statement. This isn't the first time a medical group has changed how it presents drug data at meetings -- a fraught issue that, when mishandled, can put organizations at risk of running afoul of securities laws. The American Society of Clinical Oncology, for instance, changed its policy and posts most study summaries online ahead of its annual scientific meeting. It used to distribute them to participants weeks ahead of the conference, but banned media from reporting on the contents until the event. "I think the days of conferences engaging in selective release of important study results are probably over," Scott Gottlieb, a physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, tells Dow Jones. -For continuously updated news from The Wall Street Journal, see WSJ.com at http://wsj.com.

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