Politico: Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong's genetic test sales boosted by sales to physicians on his payroll

Billionaire physician and medical entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, is facing criticism for reportedly boosting sales of his GPS Cancer genetic tests by citing positive experiences from three physicians with financial ties to one of his biotech companies, according to Politico.

Sales of the genetic tests, which Dr. Soon-Shiong says guide cancer treatment by matching patients with tailored drug therapies, have failed to meet analysts' expectations. Based on a review of financial documents and corporate filings, a Politico investigation found that of the 1,286 tests sold in 2016, more than 100 were sold to institutions linked to three physicians on the payroll in Dr. Soon-Shiong's network.

Dr. Soon-Shiong had touted these physicians' successes with his tests without disclosing they were consultants of his companies.

For example, on a November 2016 earnings call, he spoke about a "physician in Sarasota Florida who has now shared with me personally how this has affected how he treats patients," Politico reports. He added the physician, Steve Mamus, MD, achieved an excellent result with one lung cancer patient who used the test, and that GPS Cancer "is not just a flurry of useless information."

Dr. Mamus, however, began work as a paid consultant for Dr. Soon-Shiong two months earlier.

Jen Hodson, a spokeswoman for Dr. Soon-Shiong, told Politico the use of physicians as consultants by Dr. Soon-Shiong's companies doesn't create an ethical issue.

"In the cases where physicians have relationships with [Dr. Soon-Shiong's biotech firm] NantKwest there is a proactive conflict of interest policy which is available on our website for all to transparently see," she said.

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