Report: NantHealth cancer test sales boosted by doctors tied to Soon-Shiong

An investigation by Politico revealed more than 100 of the reported 1,286 genetic tests sold in 2016 by NantHealth were purchased by three doctors who are on the payroll of one of Soon-Shiong’s companies.
By Jessica Davis
12:30 PM
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Patrick Soon-Shiong

NantHealth founder Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, is once again being scrutinized: This time for allegedly boosting sales by citing positive experiences from three doctors who are on the payroll of one of the many companies in the biotech mogul’s network.

A new report by Politico found that sales of Soon-Shiong’s crown product, the GPS Cancer genetic test, are being bolstered by purchases made from hospitals and clinics with doctors who are financially tied to Soon-Shiong’s mass network.

In fact, the report found that of the 1,286 tests sold in 2016, more than 100 were made by organizations linked to three doctors who have at one point been on the payroll of the biotech mogul’s companies.

[Also: Cher sues NantHealth's Patrick Soon-Shiong alleging stock sale fraud]

In various calls to investors, Soon-Shiong cited those very purchases as proof of the positive appeal of GPS -- but failed to mention the doctor was a paid consultant for the company. The report found the same physician was being paid on a monthly basis, depending on the amount of work accomplished for the test.

In one 2016 call, Soon-Shiong referenced a doctor who shared how the test affected how he treated patients. However, he failed to mention that same doctor began as a paid consultant for Soon-Shiong just two months prior.

[Also: Patrick Soon-Shiong acquires stake in 6 California hospitals]

A company spokeswoman said the use of these doctors as consultants doesn’t pose any ethical questions. Further, any connections between these doctors and Soon-Shiong’s companies are disclosed on the company’s websites.

But Soon-Shiong is no stranger to conflict of interest accusations.

Earlier this year, three separate reports called into question Soon-Shiong’s business dealings with both his nonprofits and NantHealth. One report found Soon-Shiong used charitable donations to bolster his health tech company, while another report said the biotech mogul’s cancer program is merely a publicity ploy.

In 2002, a New York Times investigation reported that a shareholder in one of Soon-Shiong’s drug companies helped sell the product to its own hospital clients -- but failed to disclose the relationship.

[Also: Politico uncovers more funding indiscretions from Patrick Soon-Shiong]

Soon-Shiong has continuously denied any wrongdoing.

However, the NantHealth founder has been hit with a handful of lawsuits this year -- including one from the legendary singer Cher who claims Soon-Shiong and other board members of biopharmaceutical company Altor for stock sale fraud.

As a result, NantHealth stock has continued to suffer. At the time of publication, the stock was selling at $3.30 per share.

Despite the long list of controversies, Soon-Shiong has continued to forge ahead. In February at HIMSS17, he debuted an AI cloud platform that uses a fiber-optic infrastructure to process genome activity of cancer tumors at high speed. He also announced the FDA gave the green light to advance the company’s cancer vaccine into later stages of clinical trials.

In May, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, named Soon-Shiong to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health IT Advisory Committee. The NantHealth founder also recently purchased a controlling stake in Verity Health, a California health system.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com