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All About Publicity

Billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong launched his Cancer MoonShot 2020 a year ago, but Stat News reports that it has made little headway.

Soon-Shiong, the CEO of NantWorks, announced his initiative to test immunotherapy drugs shortly after former President Barack Obama launched a federal Cancer Moonshot effort. But Stat News writes that Cancer MoonShot 2020 appears to be an "elaborate marketing tool for Soon-Shiong."

It reports that the project appears to be promoting the use of NantHealth's GPS Cancer tool, which analyzes tumors to suggest treatment approaches. Some companies and institutes listed as project collaborators have only agreed to use or pay clinicians to use the test, it says.

Stat News adds that NantHealth needs the test to do well as the company's stock has declined some 53 percent since its June debut. "For now, the moonshot project is helping Soon-Shiong get the word about GPS Cancer out far and wide and establish it as a cutting-edge tool — even before those validation studies are in," it writes.

In addition, Stat News reports that many of the project breakthroughs have been overstated, as have the collaborators who've signed on.

"Soon-Shiong is definitely a promoter, for sure," writes Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline. "But that's forgivable if you deliver something after all the hype — I mean, Steve Jobs said a lot of crazy stuff over the years, too. It doesn't appear that Soon-Shiong is, so far." 

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