Twitter-driven stock furor prompts exchange to fine Medivir

Drugmakers normally want to see a positive stock market reaction to the release of their clinical trial data, but such a surge has landed Medivir in trouble with the Swedish stock exchange. The problem? A conference attendee shared the data on Twitter ($TWTR), sparking a rollercoaster day for Medivir's stock.

The situation unfolded in early March, when an attendee at a conference in Atlanta photographed data Medivir had presented at the meeting and shared it on Twitter. When the Swedish stock exchange opened the next day, the data had spread across Twitter. Interest in the stock skyrocketed. While the day-to-day stock price changes looks mundane--on March 4 Medivir opened at SEK86.75 and closed up 3.75% at SEK90.00--this masks a day of intrigue.

A sharp rise in Medivir's share price prompted the Swedish stock exchange to halt trading. Later in the day Medivir published an official release disclosing the data, at which point trading resumed. The release of the actual results revealed a surprise for investors--the data was nothing special. What excited investors was how the data was released. The "leaking" of the data on Twitter created a level of interest in the results that was completely disconnected from the rational impact of the information.

While Medivir was only indirectly responsible for creating the furor, the Swedish stock exchange has ruled it was too slow to post an official release to calm the market. The release arrived three hours after Medivir learned of the Twitter chatter. For its tardiness Medivir was slapped with a $58,750 fine. With conference users frequently sharing data on Twitter--and the social media echo chamber over-hyping its significance--the case is a warning for all companies. Secrecy and intrigue can make mundane data appear miraculous.

- read FiercePharma's take
- here's the exchange's statement

Special Report: 10 startups fueling pharma in social media