- The fraud trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has run through its 11th week.
- In a surprise move from the defense, Holmes took the stand late Friday afternoon.
- Here’s everything that happened in the trial in its eleventh week.
The prosecution rests
Prosecutors rested their case Friday after nearly three months of testimony from 29 witnesses, including doctors, patients, investors, and ex-employees.
Holmes takes the stand
In a surprise move late Friday, the defense called Holmes to testify. Holmes recalled her early vision for Theranos’ technology to be a pill, and then a patch, that could administer medicine; the idea changed to machines when she learned “people were interested in a benchtop or tabletop device.”
“We worked for years with teams of scientists and engineers to miniaturize all the technologies in the laboratory,” she testified.
Holmes said she met venture capitalist Donald Lucas during Theranos’ Series B round through someone who went to college with her father; she also described meeting subsequent investors Chris Lucas and Oracle founder Larry Ellison.
Donald Lucas “began a very comprehensive diligence process,” she said, according to CNBC. “He hired a law firm to review our patents. He asked us to get an audit of our financials. He wanted copies of our contracts.”
Holmes said she offered to put investors in touch with pharmaceutical companies that Theranos was working with and that Theranos had been in talks with Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, signing contracts with the latter two in 2006. Holmes said she told investors about these contracts.
Investor: Theranos “forced us to rely on the representations they made”
Prosecution witness Brian Grossman, of hedge fund PFM Health Sciences LP, which invested $96 million in Theranos, recalled meeting Holmes in 2013 and being told the company’s technology was being used by the military and major pharmaceutical companies, according to The Verge. He also said he took a Theranos test at a Walgreens and asked former COO and president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani why it wasn’t a finger-stick test and why it took longer than advertised, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“He told me one of the tests my physician had ordered was a highly unusual test,” Grossman testified.
Grossman said Balwani denied his requests to speak with representatives from Walgreens and UnitedHealthcare, with which Theranos claimed to have a partnership. Grossman says Balwani’s refusals “forced us to rely on the representations they made to us,” The Verge reports.
Patient received false positive HIV test
Erin Tompkins testified about taking a Theranos test at an Arizona Walgreens in 2015 that showed she had an HIV antibody. She said she’d never been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS before and tried contacting someone at Theranos’ lab about the result but was never able to speak with a scientist or medical professional there, according to CNBC.
“I was quite emotional at the time,” she said.
A few months later, and again this August, Tompkins took an HIV test elsewhere, testing negative both times.
Reporter recalls interviews with Holmes
Journalist Roger Parloff, whose 2014 Fortune cover story on Theranos helped launch Holmes to prominence, said Holmes told him company machines could perform tests for 1,000 medical codes, according to CNN; Theranos’ website said it could perform 200 tests. According to his testimony, Holmes denied any use of third-party machines.
After a 2015 Wall Street Journal investigation found Theranos’ testing abilities were very limited, Parloff asked Holmes how many tests Theranos machines could perform as of the date listed in the article. Holmes responded, “50, 60, maybe 70,” which Parloff says was the first time he learned the devices couldn’t do the 200 tests advertised, according to the Journal.
You can catch up on Week 1 here, Week 2 here, Week 3 here, Week 4 here, Week 5 here, Week 6 here, and Week 7 here, Week 9 here, and Week 10 here. You can read how Holmes wound up on trial here and see the list of potential witnesses here. Everything else you need to know about the case is here.