Do Physicians/Researchers Trade Stock Based on Privileged Information? A Closer Look at Trading Patterns Surrounding the Annual ASCO Conference



The goal of this paper was to assess whether, given the opportunity, physicians/researchers would try to profit (by trading stocks) from information that only they were made privy to. The Annual ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Conference, the largest annual oncology conference, provided the perfect venue to fully explore this question. Up until 2008, ASCO abstracts were released exclusively to ASCO members (i.e., physicians, oncologists) two weeks prior to the conference, and many speculated about unusual trading patterns during these two weeks. In 2008, in response to concerns about such illicit activities, ASCO changed this policy (by distributing these abstracts instead to the general public). We decided to take a closer look at these trading patterns to determine the true impact of ASCO's 2008 decision and whether the differences prior to and following 2008 reveal something about the likelihood of physicians/researchers to profit from “privileged information.”