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For Biotech Investors, ASCO's Now an Open Book

For the first time, the American Society of Clinical Oncology is opening its books to everyone.

Research abstracts for the ASCO annual meeting -- the largest and most important cancer research meeting of the year -- will be posted online and made accessible to everyone in advance of the meeting, has learned.

ASCO decided to enact the new "open" policy for its annual meeting research abstracts after enduring years of criticism that it was facilitating the selective disclosure of potentially market-moving information.

"We recognize that we needed to level the playing field," says Allen Lichter, ASCO's executive vice president and CEO, adding, "There were implications beyond the science of the meeting. This is clearly the right thing to do."

The organization has had a policy of mailing abstract books exclusively to its many thousands of members about two weeks in advance of the start of its annual meeting, which is held every spring.

These books are chock-full of research data from clinical trials scheduled for presentation at the meeting. Much of this is highly investable information, and that is why many investors went to great lengths to obtain early access to the books.

ASCO tried to prevent its members from discussing or sharing research abstracts, with little success. Inevitably, there were ASCO data leaks, which led to volatility in the trading of biotech cancer stocks. Prior to last year's meeting, for instance trading in Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX), ImClone Systems (IMCL) and Genentech (DNA), among others, was affected.

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