Biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, a former billionaire accused of devising a massive scam, expressed remorse on the witness stand on Tuesday, but denied trying to hide that her company’s blood test methods were not working as she had promised
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes, a former billionaire accused of devising a massive medical scam, expressed remorse on the witness stand on Tuesday, but denied trying to hide the methods Her company’s blood tests weren’t working as she had promised.
On her third day of testimony in the high-profile criminal trial, Holmes admitted to making mistakes as CEO of Theranos, a company she founded in 2003 when she was just 19. But she has repeatedly stressed that she makes most of her decisions with the help of other leaders and a respected board that included former cabinet members from various presidential administrations.
Holmes, now 37, has also made it clear that she has never stopped believing that Theranos will revolutionize healthcare with technology supposedly able to detect a wide range of illnesses and other problems by testing only a few. drops of blood.
“It’s never easy,” she said. “There are always challenges.”
Theranos ultimately collapsed after a series of explosive articles in the Wall Street Journal and an audit of federal regulators revealed serious and potentially dangerous flaws in the company’s blood tests. The scandal wiped out Holmes’ fortune, estimated at $ 4.5 billion in 2014 when it received glowing coverage on Fortune magazine.
Holmes has denied that he intends to deceive anyone about the operation of his partnership with Walgreens, which sought to install Theranos testing devices in 3,000 of the drugstore chain’s stores. Walgreens ended this partnership after problems with inaccurate test results and the discovery that Theranos was testing many of its samples on conventional diagnostic equipment – and not with Theranos’ Edison device, which was supposed to provide more testing. fast and less expensive.
Holmes said when Theranos was about to start performing tests at Walgreens stores, she intentionally sent them to a central lab for conventional analysis instead. Holmes claimed that the Edison was not designed to work in large groups to process large numbers of blood samples.
His testimony contradicts previous testimony and prosecutors’ claims that Theranos switched to conventional testing due to test failures and other issues with the Edison. Theranos never told his clients that he was using regular test equipment instead of the Edison.
Holmes testified that Theranos remained silent because he created an “invention” that could process small blood samples on conventional testing machines. The company has not asked Walgreens or anyone else to protect this trade secret from possible theft by a larger, more established testing company, she claimed. “They had more engineers than us,” said Holmes.
A major question remains in Holmes’ testimony – whether she will respond to his claim in legal records that she was secretly being manipulated by her former lover and former Theranos chief operating officer, Sunny Balwani, into conduct contrary to the ethics.
In court documents released shortly before the trial began in early September, Holmes’ lawyers accused Balwani of subjecting Holmes to “intimate partner violence.”
Balwani also drew up a series of financial projections that were the focus of the lawsuit, according to Holmes. In documents distributed to potential investors, Theranos forecast annual revenues of $ 140 million in 2014 and $ 990 million in 2015. Other evidence presented during the trial showed that the company was never far away. close to achieving those goals.
Holmes said the revenue forecast for 2015 was largely based on an anticipated expansion of Walgreens stores that never materialized.
The former CEO of Theranos took responsibility for adding the logo of Pfizer, a major drug maker, to a report touting the effectiveness of Theranos technology. The move came after an internal report from Pfizer that Holmes said he had never seen expressed doubts about the reliability of Theranos’ blood tests.
“I would have liked to have done it differently,” said Holmes. Several investors testified that seeing the Pfizer logo on the report helped them persuade them to invest in Theranos.
Holmes raised nearly $ 1 billion after founding Theranos in 2003. She faces allegations of deception from investors, patients and business partners while running the company in Palo Alto, California. If found guilty, she faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Holmes has so far spent eight hours on the stand and will not return until Monday, when the trial resumes after a Thanksgiving break.