NantHealth/Soon-Shiong ch. 2: pay for play research at University of Utah?

Stat has returned to digging in the NantHealth/Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong garden to see if any more bones turn up. The writer examined the $12 million donation to the University of Utah and confirmed the POLITICO assertion that most of it ($10 million) went right back to NantHealth through a contract arrangement to pay for genetic sequencing of blood, tissue, and tumor samples. In this article are snippets of emails dating back to 2014 that indicated that even though NantHealth was at the time of the deal not yet capable of performing the work, they were specified along with the Utah Genome Project as one of the two teams to do the genome analytics. NantHealth by their own admission delayed for a few months when due in 2015 as they were not yet ready. The deal with Utah also gave NantHealth access to anonymized genetic and health data on hundreds of patients, specifically disease traits in families, their medical conditions, and relationships, if any, to others providing samples for analysis. This would have been of value not only to GPS Cancer but also to yet another Soon-Shiong company, GPS Heritage, which assesses a patient’s risk of inherited and rare diseases.

Pay for Play, which is what marketing types like your Editor call arrangements like this, removes any objectivity from this research. This is in addition to the donation arrangements, which present all sorts of taxation implications.

Regrettably, instead of trying to clear things up or being upfront about this business arrangement, Dr Soon-Shiong has chosen to make this a War of the Tweets, accusing Stat and POLITICO of bias, and to hide behind a now long-ago meeting with President Trump. (Sorry, Doctor, POTUS has other things on his mind like North Korea, ISIS and the American Economy–and he tweets more skillfully than you.) Everyone knows that finding treatments and cures for cancer is noble work, but there is also the appearance of cutting corners and a general air of dubiousness around the whole NantHealth enterprise. Mr Market is having its say as well in the share price. By the way, NantHealth lost $184 million in 2016Stat, Healthcare IT News.

Read Chapter 1, ‘Another Theranos on boil?’, here.

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