USA Today posts story on approval of diet drug too soon, takes it down

USA Today has yanked back a story about a diet drug’s approval by the FDA — because the FDA hasn’t actually approved the drug yet.

The FDA is scheduled to announce its decision on the subject of the story — Vivus’ Qnexa — today. The decision has been closely watched.

The story, headlined “New diet drug helps heavy patients lose 10% of weight,” includes a lot of reporting, including comments from the president of Vivus about a change in name from Qnexa to something else. (We’ll leave USA Today that apparent scoop, although others might not.) It was posted on the Salem, Oregon’s Statesman Journal at 12:16 p.m. today, presumably Eastern, since it was taken down before the West Coast arrived at 2 p.m.

Where the story appeared on is now a blank page, and the Statesman-Journal page redirects to “Story Not Found.”

It looks as though the story was prepared for release as soon as the FDA decision came out but released early accidentally. We’re looking into the circumstances, which seem to have included automated posting on many Gannett sites.

Update, 2:25 p.m. Eastern: USA Today has posted a notice where the story appeared (and now you can see the new name, too):

USA TODAY inadvertently published a story online this morning saying the Food and Drug Administration had given approval to the diet drug Qsymia (kyoo sim ee’ uh). The story was prepared in anticipation of FDA approval, but at this hour that approval is still pending.

Hat tips: Brett Chase via Scott Hensley, cross-posted on Embargo Watch.

2 thoughts on “USA Today posts story on approval of diet drug too soon, takes it down”

  1. It’s ok to prepare a story in advance, but how do you get a quote from the CEO before the actual approval? Does this mean that Vivus knows the decision and has embargoed it to a select few media outlets?

    1. the quote was totally canned & generic. It means absolutely nothing. I’ve been in the publishing/editorial industry for a long time & we do editorial pre-prep rather often. when it comes to time sensitive material, we’ll use similar approach when it comes to quoting sources pre release.

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