NantHealth's Soon-Shiong doubles down on 'fake news' claims

Despite company losing $41 million in the first quarter, biotech mogul Patrick Soon-Shiong defended his company’s work and chastised what he called false reports.
By Jessica Davis
10:58 AM
NantHealth’s Soon-Shiong

NantHealth this week posted a $41 million net loss for its first quarter in 2017, $8 million more than last year’s loss of $33 million during the same time period.

But in what was meant to be a routine earnings call to discuss company financials, NantHealth Founder Patrick Soon-Shiong instead took the time to reiterate his company’s goals and defend against what he called “false reporting.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to get something off my chest,” said Soon-Shiong. “While it’s not benefitting to dignify false reporting or to be further distracted by these false claims. I feel it’s important for me to address a truly egregious false statement.”

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

Soon-Shiong referenced one part of a Politico investigation that claimed NantWorks purchased a building from his nonprofit organization Chan Soon-Shiong NantHealth Foundation for about $6 million -- six years after it sold for $13.3 million.

“That statement is false,” Soon-Shiong said. “And worse, the reports knew of the fact that NantWorks actually paid $15.5 million before you published the article, yet you published a false statement.”

Soon-Shiong said he has since demanded a retraction. The NantHealth website now boasts a banner reiterating Soon-Shiong’s stance on these reports.

[Also: New evidence emerges that Soon-Shiong used philanthropy to funnel money to businesses, Stat says]

However, both Soon-Shiong’s statement on the call and the statement on the website make no mention of the laundry list of other claims made by Stat News and Politico about how Soon-Shiong and NantHealth handle funds. The reports showed how the biotech mogul used philanthropy to funnel money to his businesses.

Emails revealed strings were attached to donations, including a $12 million donation to the University of Utah. The documents showed how $10 million of that donation would be given back to one of Soon-Shiong’s companies, and the contract was worded to stipulate the university wouldn’t get the funding without these terms.

[Also: NantHealth lost $184 million in 2016 as struggles plague Soon-Shiong’s cancer tech]

Soon-Shiong and his team have repeatedly denied these claims. However, the stock continues to plummet as a result. It began the year selling at $9.83 a share and is currently selling at $3.29 at time of publication. When NantHealth went public in June 2016 it sold at $18.59 a share.

Further, NantHealth’s top executive Bob Watson announced last week that he is leaving the company for ‘family reasons.’

The FDA recently authorized an investigational new drug application for the NANT Cancer Vaccine and clinical trial enrollment for pancreatic cancer patients.

The University of Utah and its affiliated Huntsman Institute have also been in turmoil since the news broke. Its Healthcare System CEO stepped down amid the controversy stemming from her acceptance of the donation and questionable firing of the Huntsman Cancer Institute Director.

The billionaire Jon M. Huntsman who help to found the Huntsman Cancer Institute published two-page advertisements Friday morning that defended the work of the institute and provided a full account of the institute’s operations.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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