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Ties That Sell

A number of sales that medical entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong has made of his genetic tests have been to institutions with physicians who have ties to his companies or nonprofit organizations, Politico reports. Soon-Shiong is CEO of NantWorks, which includes NantHealth, NantKwest, and others.

In 2016, Politico says NantHealth sold 1,286 GPS Cancer tests, but that more than 100 of those sales were to institutions associated with three physicians in Soon-Shiong's sphere. The GPS Cancer test examines the genomic and proteomic makeup of patients' tumors to match them to treatment options.

Hematologist Steve Mamus tells Politico that he bought more than 200 tests in the past two years. Politico notes that Soon-Shiong points out in calls with investors that Mamus has seen an excellent result with one patient using the test, but it adds that Mamus's status as a paid consultant isn't mentioned.

Similarly, Politico reports that Children's Hospital of Orange County's Leonard Sender was involved in ordering 87 GPS Cancer tests there while also working for NantKwest, and Sanford Health of South Dakota ordered a half a dozen tests while John Lee, who was working for NantKwest, was a consultant there.

Politico has previously reported that outlays by Soon-Shiong's nonprofits tend to flow back into his businesses, while Stat News has reported that his Cancer MoonShot 2020 effort appears to serve as publicity for the GPS Cancer tests.

Soon-Shiong's spokesperson Jen Hodson tells Politico that the use of physician-consultants doesn't raise any ethical issues and that there is a conflict of interest policy posted to their website.