Prosecutors in Elizabeth Holmes’ Federal Fraud Trial Question Witnesses about Theranos’ Edison Technology and the Inaccurate Medical Laboratory Test Results It Produced
Jury also heard testimony about Holmes’ claims that the Edison device was doing clinical laboratory testing for the military in overseas theaters
During the seventh week of ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal fraud trial, headline-making testimony continued nearly non-stop. A former Theranos product manager took the stand offering damning testimony that tied Holmes to questionable product demonstrations and exaggerated claims about the military’s use of the Edison blood-testing device. And a Pfizer scientist testified to alleged improper use of the Pfizer logo by Theranos in a report that went to Walgreen executives.
In “Tales of Theranos Devices Saving Soldiers Haunts Holmes at Trial,” Bloomberg reported that prosecutors alleged Holmes misled investors and others when she falsely claimed the Department of Defense (DOD) had deployed Theranos’ Edison device to the battlefield and used it in Afghanistan on medical evacuation helicopters.
CNN reported that former Senior Product Manager Daniel Edlin, who worked at Theranos from 2011-2016, acknowledged in court that the Edison device had never been used in a war zone or installed on a medivac helicopter. He also noted that Holmes had final say over his communications with the DOD.
According to CNN, “Edlin said he worked directly with Holmes to support the relationships with the military and Defense Department. He said, ‘the end goal’ for these discussions ‘was to start a research program that would compare Theranos’ testing to the testing available to the military at that time.”
Edlin testified that Holmes was ‘highly involved’ with these communications, CNN reported.
“I’d say any substantive communication I had with the military, I either discussed with her ahead of time … or email drafts were reviewed and approved before I sent them back out,” he testified.
During cross examination, Edlin walked back some of his damaging testimony. When asked by defense attorney Kevin Downey, JD, of Williams and Connelly, LLP, if he or anyone else at Theranos was intentionally trying to deceive investors or other visitors during the demonstrations, Edlin responded, “Of course not,” according to Palo Alto Online.
To counter the prosecution’s claims that Theranos’ Edison machines were unsuitable for military use because they could not operate in high temperatures, Downey introduced an email from an Army doctor at the US Command in Africa praising the Edison after examining it in high temperatures. The doctor also, according to court documents, proposed the Army provide more funding to test the Edison’s capabilities, Palo Alto Online reported.
Nevertheless, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the Edison was never sent to a US military laboratory in Afghanistan for study, nor was it used in Africa to run blood tests.
Former Pfizer Scientist Testifies to Misuse of Intellectual Property
In another broadside to the Holmes defense, former Pfizer scientist Shane Weber, PhD, testified Holmes used the Pfizer logo in investor materials without the company’s permission in order to pass off as credible a study aimed at validating the Edison device.
The WSJ reported Weber told jurors that in 2008 he had reviewed a 15-page Theranos study involving cancer patients, but that he had stated in his own internal report to Pfizer at that time that nine conclusions in the study—including a statement that the “Theranos system performed with superior performance”—were “not believable.” Pfizer eventually heeded Weber’s advice to not enter into a partnership with Theranos.
Prosecutors stated that as part of Theranos’ negotiations with Walgreens, which ultimately invested $140 million in the blood-testing company, Holmes had placed a Pfizer logo on the top of each page of the cancer study report before sending it to Walgreens executives, claiming it was an independent due-diligence report on Theranos technology.
Weber told jurors that he had not known about the altered report until he was shown the document by prosecutors. He stated the logo was added without Pfizer’s permission, the WSJ reported.
Unfortunately for Walgreens, the retail pharmacy chain entered into a business agreement with Theranos without extensively examining or testing the Edison device, which Theranos had claimed could quickly and accurately run 200 diagnostic tests using a finger-stick of blood. Instead, the company relied on the opinions of its own staff healthcare experts and outside experts, none of whom fully tested the technology either, the WSJ stated.
Testimony in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial is expected to continue through December. Therefore, clinical laboratory managers and pathologists should expect headline-making news to continue as well. Dark Daily will continue its coverage as the trial moves forward.
—Andrea Downing Peck