It didn’t take the government long to react when Seattletimes.com revealed a fantastic pharmaceutical industry secret.
“ ‘Selling Drug Secrets’ drew the quickest response of any Seattle Times investigation in memory,” said Stanley Farrar, managing editor of the periodical’s online companion. “Within hours of reading the published report and viewing supporting documents at seattletimes.com/drugsecrets, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called for a federal investigation into selling drug secrets.”
The Times removed the veil from the unsightly dealing going on between drug companies and Wall Street. Reporters Luke Timmerman and David Heath discovered that investing firms were slipping money to drug makers to get the inside edge on trading. As their investigation got rolling, the secret seemed to snowball.
“The Seattle Times found 26 cases in which doctors leaked confidential information to Wall Street firms, a practice with a painful cost to society,” Farrar said. “Trading stock on purchased inside information is not only illegal but can introduce bias into drug trials and possibly half-development of potentially life-saving drugs.”
The degree of the damaging side effects of the revelation likely prompted immediate government action. Clearly a national epidemic, the Web was instrumental for passing along the secret.
On Seattletimes.com, visitors could read Timmerman and Heath’s story, view interactive charts and timelines and listen to audio quotes, including one doctor’s illuminating conference call.
It was an unmatched package on an untouched subject.
“Other newspapers tried to catch up with our investigation, but none presented on-the-record, documented cases, as our two reporters had done,” said Farrar.
And one the judges found unbeatable.
“This combination of months of detail-gathering and multiple layers of interactivity is the essence of investigative Web reporting, and the Seattletimes.com team captured it beautifully,” said the judges.