Elizabeth Holmes testifies in trial over Theranos: Latest news

(Sketch by Vicki Behringer)

In her testimony Monday, Elizabeth Holmes appeared to address one of the government’s allegations: that it misrepresented to investors that its technology had been «examined, used, and validated» by several pharmaceutical companies.

The government alleged that Theranos doctored reports appearing to validate its technology from two major pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Schering-Plough — and then sent those to investors and retail partners as it sought their money. 

Holmes said Theranos provided a report to Pfizer in late 2008 in connection with a contract it struck with the company in 2006. Asked whether Pfizer provided feedback that she’s aware of on that report, Holmes testified: «I don’t think on the report specifically, no.» Former Pfizer scientist Shane Weber, who was tasked with assessing Theranos around that time, testified he concluded the company did not have any “diagnostic or clinical interest to Pfizer» and conveyed to Holmes that the company would not be working with it. Holmes testified that Theranos continued to interact with Pfizer about potential work.

Holmes also testified that Theranos did a validation study for Schering-Plough and provided a report to the company. Dr. Constance Cullen, a former scientist for Schering-Plough, previously testified she had been unimpressed with the company. But Holmes testified she thought Cullen had a favorable view of its technology, citing information relayed to her by a Theranos employee who’d spoken with Cullen.

However, Holmes did not address the allegation that she sought to mislead by sending validation reports affixed with Pfizer and Schering-Plough logos.

Holmes spent roughly the first hour of her time on the stand testifying about what she described as successful studies done with pharmaceutical companies.

Referring to a slide from 2009 titled «completed successes,» Holmes testified that the list was her team highlighting for her the various studies it had done with other companies. Among the big names listed: Pfizer, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Mayo Clinic and Merck. Asked what qualified as a success, Holmes said it meant that «we had successfully achieved the objectives of the program.» 

With Novartis, for example, Holmes testified that Theranos’ tests were compared to traditional tests, and she recalled the results «being really good.» She also testified that Merck, for example, had been happy with the study results and expressed interest in helping find a clinical study for use of Theranos’ technology — but that never happened.

The government has alleged that Theranos doctored validation reports from two major pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Schering-Plough — which it then sent to investors and retail partners as it sought their money.