Enlarge / Elizabeth Holmes, founding father of Theranos Inc., left, arrives at federal court docket in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.

The jury in Elizabeth Holmes’ felony trial heard from Theranos’ founder and former CEO for the primary time yesterday. What she mentioned, nevertheless, didn’t come from the witness stand—Holmes hasn’t been referred to as to testify but. Rather, the prosecution performed interviews recorded by journalist Roger Parloff, who wrote a canopy story about Holmes when he labored at Forbes journal.

Over the course of 10 hours of taped interviews, Holmes made a variety of outstanding, and damning, statements.

In one clip, Parloff requested her what number of checks Theranos can carry out. “I think can we say more than 1,000,” Holmes mentioned.

In one other excerpt, the jury heard Holmes telling the reporter that “the fact that we have a single device that can perform any test” was a commerce secret.

The jury additionally heard Parloff asking Holmes whether or not Theranos may basically exchange Quest Diagnostics, one of many nation’s largest medical laboratories. Quest may do 600 some checks, Parloff identified to Holmes, together with tissue biopsies.

“We can do all of those tests so we can provide data back to clinicians for all the same tests,” Holmes mentioned after a short hesitation. When requested why she hesitated and didn’t say “replaced,” she replied, “We’re processing the samples in different ways, let’s put it that way,” assuring Parloff that Theranos’ information continues to be of the “highest quality.”

Many of these statements have been outright falsehoods or, extra charitably, danced across the reality. In actuality, Theranos couldn’t carry out greater than 12 checks on its Edison gadgets, former lab affiliate Erika Cheung advised the jury earlier within the trial. Even then, “the Edison analyzer could only run one type of test for one patient at a given time,” Cheung mentioned when she took the stand in September.


Holmes additionally shared with Parloff the doctored studies that sported numerous pharmaceutical firm logos—together with Pfizer, Schering-Plough, and GlaxoSmithKline. On the stand, Parloff confirmed that she by no means advised him that the studies have been produced by Theranos and hadn’t been permitted by these firms.

Parloff additionally advised the jury that Holmes by no means disclosed that the majority of their checks have been carried out utilizing third-party gadgets, although he requested her that query straight.

Article and correction

When Parloff’s article was revealed in June 2014, it grew to become a part of Holmes’ packet despatched to woo buyers. It’s straightforward to see why. In the article, Parloff described Theranos’ finger-prick technique—“To me, it felt more like a tap than a puncture”—and he relayed the sheer variety of checks the corporate may do at decrease value than rivals. 

“Theranos’s tests can be performed on just a few drops of blood, or about 1/100th to 1/1,000th of the amount that would ordinarily be required,” Parloff wrote, “an extraordinary potential boon to frequently tested hospital patients or cancer victims, the elderly, infants, children, the obese, those on anticoagulants, or simply anyone with an aversion to blood draws.”

For Theranos, the article was a advertising and marketing gold mine. The firm even linked to it from its web site.

Yet, in July 2015, at a Theranos demonstration at a board member’s legislation agency, Parloff observed one thing odd. The firm had arrange two gadgets, one to run a potassium take a look at, one other to run an Ebola take a look at. “I was a little surprised they needed two machines because I thought one could do everything,” he advised the court docket.

Months later, after The Wall Street Journal revealed its investigation into Theranos, Parloff went again to Holmes to ask her to make clear factors made within the article. Specifically, he requested her what number of checks Theranos may carry out on its proprietary system as of late 2014, the date talked about in his article. “She responded, ‘50, 60, maybe 70. We can get you that number,’” Parloff advised the court docket.


Ultimately, he launched a “protracted correction” wherein he picked aside a number of claims Holmes made to him.

Uneven take a look at outcomes

Earlier within the day, the jury heard from Dr. Mark Burnes and his affected person, Merhl Ellsworth. Though Ellsworth’s time on the stand was temporary, testimony from Burnes, who ordered blood checks for him with Theranos, was revealing.

In the summer time of 2015, the time of the checks, Ellsworth was a retired dentist who was about to embark on a two-year mission journey to Asia. He had checked in together with his physician to make sure he was match to journey. Burnes ordered a prostate most cancers screening, which Ellsworth had undergone earlier than, and he really useful Theranos because the firm’s checks have been cheaper than the competitors.

What adopted sounds strikingly just like one other affected person’s expertise: when the outcomes got here again, Ellsworth’s prostate-specific antigen numbers have been excessive, at 26.1, a possible signal of prostate most cancers. Four days later, Ellsworth took one other take a look at. This time, the outcomes have been 1.71, which have been just like earlier pre-Theranos outcomes and didn’t point out the presence of most cancers.

Still, Burnes wasn’t assured in both quantity and referred to as Theranos. The regional lab director advised him the primary consequence was most likely an error. Burnes mentioned he would have Ellsworth take the take a look at for a 3rd time, and he requested the regional director if Theranos would reimburse for the fee, which it did.

The third take a look at got here again excessive as soon as extra—22.9. Burnes referred to as Theranos, telling the court docket that within the dialog, “I expressed a lack of confidence in their tests.” He requested Theranos to pay for one more take a look at, this time with a venous draw. The firm agreed, and the consequence was regular—0.95.

Inside Theranos, govt Daniel Young and different staff had been discussing the botched leads to a prolonged electronic mail chain, which the jury noticed had been forwarded to Holmes.

In cross-examination, Holmes’ lawyer requested Burnes whether or not he was accustomed to the error charge for medical diagnostic labs. Earlier, Burnes had identified that in his 30 years training medication, he has interpreted over 10,000 checks for prostate-specific antigen. He advised the protection lawyer that, sure, labs can have errors. But “they’re very rare.”

In March 2016, almost a yr after Theranos ran Ellsworth’s blood, the corporate despatched Burnes a corrected lab report wherein it had voided the excessive numbers. The PSA outcomes, it mentioned, ”shouldn’t be used out of an abundance of warning.”


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