Former Vice President received an exclusive tour of a completely fake medical testing laboratory within Theranos, which he found “most impressive”
One thing clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists may still be curious about concerning the whole Theranos affair is how the company founder Elizabeth Holmes could fool so many high-ranking individuals—including then Vice President Joe Biden—into endorsing a completely fraudulent medical laboratory test process.
In “The Wild Way Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos Tricked Joe Biden,” MSN attempts to explain how Holmes and her partner, Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, “managed to hoodwink some of the biggest names in the political and investment world, including former President Bill Clinton, News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, and four-star General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis.”
But it was the lengths to which Holmes and Balwani went to “trick” Joe Biden into endorsing Theranos—and subsequently receive the positive press that followed—that MSN found most intriguing.
According to MSN, in July of 2015 Holmes and Balwani procured Biden’s endorsement by giving the VP a tour of a “completely fake, staged lab.”
“What’s most impressive to me is you’re not only making these lab tests more accessible, you’re charging historically low prices, which is a small fraction of what is charged now, while maintaining the highest standards, and empowering people whether they live in the barrio or a mansion, putting them in a position to help take control of their own health,” stated then VP Joe Biden (above with Elizabeth Holmes) in a Theranos press release. Sadly, many clinical laboratory leaders who were skeptical and outspoken about Theranos’ claims were ignored by the press. (Photo copyright: ABC News.)
Wall Street Journal Reporter Exposes Theranos Fraud
According to a 2018 article by John Carreyrou which was part of his expose´ of Theranos published in The Wall Street Journal, “Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani wanted to impress Vice President Biden with a vision of a cutting-edge, automated laboratory. Instead of showing him the actual lab with its commercial analyzers, they created a fake one, according to former employees who worked in Newark. They made the microbiology team vacate a room it occupied, had it repainted, and lined its walls with rows of [Theranos] miniLabs stacked up on metal shelves.”
“I just had a short tour and I’m glad because you can see first-hand what innovation is all about just walking through this facility. This is the laboratory of the future,” Biden said in the press release.
In 2015, then Vice President Joe Biden toured the Theranos facility with Elizabeth Holmes, observed their supposedly innovative finger stick test system, and met with several Theranos employees. Later reports exposing the fraud stated that Holmes and Balwani were desperate to obtain Biden’s approval as it would provide positive press for Theranos, a good reputation within the industry, and lure potential investors. Theranos later tweeted a photo (above) of the visit showing Biden and Holmes walking amongst numbered blood-testing machines with a huge Theranos logo banner in the background. (Photo copyright: Connor Radnovich/The Chronicle.)
Biden’s visit occurred just a few months before Carreyrou’s Wall Street Journal report questioned the efficacy of Theranos’ blood testing technology and alleged the lab testing company tried to cover up its failures and mislead investors and patients.
Prior to that hard-hitting exposé, Holmes was heralded by the media as a star in the field of medicine. She was even prominently featured on magazine covers of influential business periodicals such as Fortune, Forbes, and Inc.
Others Who Were Bamboozled by Holmes and Balwani
Biden was not the only high-profile individual who was fooled by Holmes, Balwani and their billion-dollar con job. Other high-profile people included:
- Former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz,
- Former defense secretaries James Mattis and William Perry, and
- Former Senators Bill Frist and Sam Nunn.
Theranos ceased operations in September of 2018 amidst the exposing of the fraud and inability to locate a buyer for the company. The shutdown rendered all investments in the company worthless.
Holmes to Receive New Hearing in Federal Court
In January of this year, Holmes was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for lying to investors about Theranos products. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution for each count.
However her sentencing, originally scheduled for October 17, was delayed due to her request for a new trial based on comments by former Theranos laboratory director Adam Rosendorff, MD, that he regretted his testimony in Holmes’ fraud trial. Dark Daily covered this in “Clinical Pathologist Once Again at the Center of a National News Story as Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Seeks New Trial.”
Holmes was granted her request and will now undergo a new hearing in federal court, which we covered in “Judge Grants Delay in Ex-Theranos’ CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ Sentencing to Consider Alleged Prosecutor Misconduct.”
And so, clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists now have a better idea as to how Joe Biden was hoodwinked and endorsed a completely fake blood testing laboratory at Theranos. Can he be blamed for his ignorance of clinical laboratory test technology? Probably not. But it makes for interesting reading.