The trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of health-technology start-up Theranos, continues to inch through the judicial process. She is charged with conspiracy and wire fraud concerning defrauding investors in her company Theranos.
Holmes claimed to have a small device to run a myriad of blood tests with a single drop of blood. This concept appealed to both patients and health care providers because it saved time, money, and discomfort. Prominent people such as former Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger encouraged other wealthy families to invest in Theranos. Walgreens and Safeway invested a combined total of $550 million in setting up in-store testing sites. Over time, it became clear the testing device didn’t work, and Theranos was quietly sending standard vials of blood to conventional laboratories.
The trial initially was set to start in mid-2020, but Covid-19 came along and pushed it into late 2021. Elizabeth Holmes was pregnant, which also led to delays in the trial. In an ironic twist this week, all the technology in the courtroom failed. Proceedings were halted for several hours, and the defense resorted to showing exhibits on a projector.
The jury was able to hear from Lynette Sawyer, the co-director of the Theranos lab. Sawyer testified she never went to the lab, was unaware of the one-drop testing devices, and never met Holmes. Sawyer continued her testimony by saying that her job was to sign documents she wasn’t permitted to edit. She resigned because she was uncomfortable with Threanos’s lack of transparency.
Sawyer’s testimony was followed by Dr. Kingshuk Das, who became the lab director after Sawyer departed. He saw the fallout in 2016 when the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted an onsite visit. CMMS found the lab conditions were not in compliance with industry standards. Das further said he told Holmes that the Theranos testing machines never worked, and all the tests conducted on them needed to be voided. Das said Holmes believed that it was a quality control issue. He, however, continued to stress that the machines never worked and were not suitable for clinical use.
It is expected that the prosecution will rest its case next week.