- The third week of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial has wrapped up.
- Witnesses included a patient who got false results, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, and more.
- Here’s everything that happened in the trial in its third week.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Defense cross-examines a former Theranos scientist
Surekha Gangakhedkar, a former Theranos scientist who testified last week, returned Tuesday for cross-examination. She had testified last Friday that Theranos’ Edison machines weren’t ready for patient use when they began rolling out in Walgreens stores. This week, defense attorney Lance Wade responded by arguing that challenges are to be expected in developing anything. “Sometimes you have to fail before you can succeed, right?” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A patient speaks out on false Theranos results that indicated a miscarriage
The jury heard the trial’s first patient testimony when Arizona medical assistant Brittany Gould took the stand Tuesday to explain how a Theranos test falsely suggested she was having a miscarriage when she really wasn’t, according to The Mercury News. Gould had miscarried three times before but gave birth to a girl from that pregnancy. She said she and her nurse practitioner, Audra Zachman, discussed options for possibly terminating the pregnancy after getting the test results.
“You can’t provide accurate patient care with inaccurate results,” Gould said, according to CNBC. Gould added that she never took another Theranos test again.
Zachman also testified, saying that Gould took a test from lab giant Quest to measure levels of the hormone hCG, which is produced during pregnancy, according to The Verge. On September 30, 2014, the Quest test showed hCG levels of 1,005, which could indicate pregnancy. Zachman said these levels can double in 48 to 72 hours in a normal pregnancy. But on October 2, a Theranos test said Gould’s hCG level was 12,558. Two days later, another Theranos test showed it had plummeted to 125.58; the sharp decline suggested Gould was miscarrying. Theranos later told Zachman that its second test result had a misplaced decimal and should have also showed 12,558.
James Mattis takes the stand
On Wednesday, former Defense Secretary James Mattis took the stand to describe his experience on Theranos’ board. Mattis said he had invested nearly $US85,000 ($AU117,056) in the now-defunct startup to “have skin in the game.” He also discussed his plans with Holmes for a military pilot project of Theranos’ technology. Mattis testified that “there came a point when I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos anymore” after a Wall Street Journal investigation said the company’s tests didn’t work as advertised.
Former Theranos employee testifies
Adam Rosendorff, Theranos’ former lab director, testified on Friday that he once believed Theranos was “going to be the next Apple,” according to the Mercury News. As his time at the company progressed, though, he “came to realize that the company really valued PR and fundraising over patient care.”
He said that, days before the commercial launch of Theranos’ machines, he tried to alert Holmes that the machines were yielding inaccurate results, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“She was very nervous,” he said of Holmes. “She was not her usual composed self.”
Rosendorff also testified that he was expected to explain away dubious test results, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I was often called upon to come up with reasons other than test performance,” he said. “I felt pressured to defend the company’s results to physicians.”
More texts revealed
CNBC obtained hundreds of pages of messages between Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos COO and president. One text from 2014 showed Holmes calling herself “best business person of the year.” Earlier this month, prosecutors released other texts between Holmes and Balwani.
You can catch up on what happened in Week 1 here and what you missed from Week 2 here. You can read about how Holmes wound up on trial here and find out everything else you need to know about the case here.