Elizabeth Holmes Rebuts Prosecution’s Key Argument In Trial

Prosecutors said Theranos had lied about endorsements from pharmaceutical companies to land funding. Ms. Holmes testified that Theranos had indeed worked with drug makers.,


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Ms. Holmes begins rebutting one of the prosecution’s key arguments.

Erin Griffith

Nov. 22, 2021, 3:03 p.m. ET

Nov. 22, 2021, 3:03 p.m. ET

Elizabeth Holmes, with her partner, Billy Evans, left, and mother, Noel Holmes, entering the courthouse on Monday.
Elizabeth Holmes, with her partner, Billy Evans, left, and mother, Noel Holmes, entering the courthouse on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

On Monday, Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, aimed to rebut a key argument made by prosecutors in her fraud case: that she lied about her company’s work with pharmaceutical companies.

One of the most damning pieces of evidence prosecutors have presented against Ms. Holmes is that Theranos sent falsified pharmaceutical company validation reports to investors. Those reports displayed the logos of drug makers, which acted as proof that Theranos’s technology had been validated by them. During the trial, investors have testified that those reports helped persuade them to pour money into Ms. Holmes’s start-up.


A Theranos report implied endorsements from pharmaceutical companies including Schering-Plough and Pfizer.

But representatives from Pfizer and Schering-Plough testified that their companies had never validated Theranos’s technology. (Pfizer’s representative said the company had come to the opposite conclusion.) Nor had they approved of having their logos added to the reports.

On the stand on Monday, Ms. Holmes testified about studies that Theranos did with Merck, AstraZeneca, Centocor, Bristol Myers Squibb and others in 2008 and 2009. One exhibit displayed internal documentation about the success of some of this early work and showed a map of around a dozen cities around the world where Theranos’s machines were used for studies.

Kevin Downey, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer, also showed what he called a peer-reviewed journal that published the results of a study that Theranos did with Stanford University around this time. He did not mention the name of the journal.

In each example, Ms. Holmes’s understanding of Theranos’s technology was that “it performed well,” she testified. In some of the examples, Theranos was paid for its work in the studies.

Throughout her trial, Ms. Holmes’s defense team has tried making the case that there was some truth to what Ms. Holmes told investors.

“The reality of what happened at Theranos is far, far more complicated than what you have heard about Elizabeth Holmes so far,” Lance Wade, another of Ms. Holmes’s lawyers, said in his opening statement at the trial’s start in September.

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