Patrick Soon-Shiong, CEO of NantKwest and NantWorks and founder of NantHealth, has come under increasing pressure from several media outlets in recent months, and this week he has taken to Twitter to fight back against those who have attacked him and his companies.
The billionaire former surgeon, who is believed to be the highest paid CEO of 2015 (nearly $150 million), is perhaps best known for Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel); Soon-Shiong sold the drug and his company Abraxis to Celgene in a $2.9 billion sale a few years back.
He’s now working on some early stage meds in the immuno-oncology space through his various, sprawling biotechs and pacts, and has even been linked to the NIH chief job, as well as also being once touted as President Donald Trump’s science czar, recently meeting with the president to discuss these roles.
He also has some big connections with the top brass in healthcare after launching his own "Cancer Moonshot 2020" program in collaboration with the NIH.
But 2017 has not been good for his public image, with reports from medical news site STAT and later Politico alleging that he had been giving out millions of dollars for philanthropic causes, but then saw this money come back to his company.
Its shares dropped about 20% after the original STAT report, and a few weeks back it also posted a $184 million loss for 2016. STAT also just today released more emails it has seen, which it says backs its original claims.
Last month, Soon-Shiong also released a video called "New Breakthrough" (and later, "Promise of Immunotherapy"), which touted his biotech’s NK cell therapy, which is not yet approved, as being part of the promise of cancer immunotherapy, and where the “breakthroughs” will happen.
Cue a patient, Lisa, crying and telling the camera how brilliant she thought this drug was, with logos of the company and references to the drug in question, NK-92, and a #solvecancer hashtag.
Questions from STAT and Adam Feuerstein of The Street have mounted as to whether Soon-Shiong and his company had violated FDA promotion rules over the video, given that its candidates are not on the market, yet Lisa said in the original piece that she had been “cured” by this therapy.
A few days later, the Twitter "promoted" video was heavily edited to take out the drug reference, the logos and the cure line from Lisa.
Soon-Shiong (@DrPatSoonShiong) has in the last few days taken to Twitter to hit out against these allegations, saying in one tweet: “Politico/STAT attacks anyone who meets @POTUS to serve USA. Important to give back. That’s why I am doing what I do,” where he links to a video from 60 Minutes Overtime, where he talks up his achievements.
At the start of the gushing piece, where Soon-Shiong is described as a “medical genius” and “the smartest guy in the room," he says: “We now have patients with pancreatic cancer that are free of metastases, this is 5 years, how many people know of that?”
He later tweeted to his 13.7K followers that he “grew up in place with no freedom. Important to give back,” and then: “Nobody should be a target just because they want to help our country. Cancer affects all Americans ...Red and Blue,” and the linked to one of his company’s sites.