SAN JOSE, California (AP) – Biotechnology founder Elizabeth Holmes, a former billionaire accused of developing a massive medical scam, expressed some remorse while at the witness stand Tuesday but refused to try to hide that the company’s blood test methods were not working as she had promised.
In her third day of testimony during the high-profile criminal case, Holmes admitted to having made some mistakes as CEO of Theranos, a company she founded in 2003 when she was just 19. But she repeatedly stressed that she made most of her decisions with with the help of other leaders and a respected board that included former cabinet members in various presidential administrations.
Holmes, now 37, also made it clear that she never stopped believing that Theranos would revolutionize health care with a technology that would be able to detect a wide range of diseases and other problems by testing just a few drops of blood.
“It̵[ads1]7;s never slippery,” she testified. – There are always challenges.
Theranos eventually collapsed after a series of explosive articles, including n The Wall Street Journal and a revision of federal regulators revealed serious and potentially dangerous errors in the company’s blood tests. The scandal wiped out Holmes’ fortune, which was estimated at $ 4.5 billion in 2014 when she was the subject of a glowing cover story at Fortune magazine.
Holmes denied that she intended to fool anyone about how the partnership with Walgreens works, which aimed to install Theranos test units in 3,000 of the pharmacy chain’s stores. Walgreens ended the collaboration after problems with inaccurate test results and the discovery that Theranos tested many of its samples on conventional diagnostic equipment – and not with Theranos’ Edison unit, which should provide faster and cheaper testing.
Holmes said that when Theranos was to start running tests in Walgreens stores, she had them intentionally sent to a central laboratory for conventional analysis instead. Holmes claimed that Edison was not designed to work in large clusters to process a large number of blood samples.
Her testimony contradicts previous testimony and prosecutors’ claims that Theranos switched to conventional testing due to test errors and other Edison issues. Theranos never told its customers that they used standard test equipment instead of Edison.
Holmes testified that Theranos kept quiet because it had made an “invention” that could process small blood samples on conventional test machines. The company did not tell Walgreens or anyone else about protecting that trade secret from possible theft by a major and established test company, she claimed. “They had more engineers than us,” Holmes said.
A big question remains in Holmes ‘testimony – whether she will take up her claim in legal documents that she was secretly manipulated by her ex-boyfriend and Theranos’ former operations manager, Sunny Balwani, into unethical behavior.
In court documents opened shortly before the trial began in early September, Holmes’ lawyers accused Balwani of exposing Holmes to “intimate partner abuse.” Balwani, who is facing a separate fraud case next year, has rejected these allegations through his lawyer.
Balwani has also prepared a number of financial estimates that have been a focal point in the trial, according to Holmes. In documents distributed to potential investors, Therano’s predicted annual revenues of $ 140 million in 2014 and $ 990 million in 2015. Other evidence presented during the trial showed that the company was never close to achieving these goals.
Holmes testified that the revenue forecast for 2015 was largely based on an expected expansion to Walgreens stores that never materialized.
The former CEO of Theranos took on the responsibility of adding the logo of Pfizer, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, in a report praising the effectiveness of Theranos’ technology. That decision came after an internal Pfizer report that Holmes said she had never expressed doubts about the reliability of Theranos’ blood tests.
“I wish I had done it differently,” Holmes said. Several investors have testified that seeing Pfizer’s logo on the report helped persuade them to invest in Theranos.
Holmes raised nearly $ 1 billion after founding Theranos in 2003. She faces allegations of cheating investors, patients and business partners while running the company Palo Alto, California. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
Holmes has so far spent eight hours on the stand and will not return until Monday, when the trial will resume after a break for the Thanksgiving party.