Drugmakers, beware of tweets that trigger stock moves

Stockholm's stock exchange slapped local drugmaker Medivir for violating disclosure rules. The fine is 384,000 Swedish kronor, or about $58,750. So, the penalty itself doesn't make this infraction worth talking about--but the rationale behind it does.

That rationale? Twitter turns even pedestrian information into exciting, stock-moving disclosures.

Here's what happened. Medivir posted some interim data from a Phase II study at a research conference. A conference participant tweeted it. Medivir shares went nuts in Stockholm, prompting the exchange to stop trading.

Later that day, Medivir issued a press release about the data. The exchange opened the stock for trading again--and started to investigate.

The interim data "did not display any sensational results," so Medivir could "have reason" to believe that the data wasn't price-sensitive information, the exchange said in a statement. But because the data--not yet made public by the company--was "leaked and spread" on social media, the information became more interesting.

"A level of drama and interest was created in the information, which did not necessarily have any rational connection based on the factual content," the exchange said. "The nature in which the information was spread is deemed to have impacted the share price."

In other words, when it comes to Twitter, the medium is the message.

Medivir should have released the data itself as soon as it discovered the Twitter conversation, the exchange figures. "[P]ublication three hours later is unacceptable," the statement said.

The moral of this story? There are two. One, Northern European stock exchanges are tough audiences (see today's Novo Nordisk story for confirmation). Two, drugmakers need to keep a close eye on information circulating out there in the Twitterverse. And they need to be prepared to throw together a press release at a moment's notice.

- read the exchange's statement
- get the disciplinary committee's decision

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