SAN JOSE, California — The fourth week of the fraud lawsuit against Therano’s founder Elizabeth Holmes lacked star power, but jurors got their most detailed look yet at how medical tests from the failed blood test startup were plagued by inaccuracies.
In the first few weeks of the trial, several high-profile witnesses testified in the government’s case against Mrs. Holmes, who had founded Theranos and built it into a $ 9 billion company before it spectacularly imploded. (She now faces 12 cases of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.) The star sciences included Erika Cheung, a former Theranos employee who became a whistle-blower, and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis who once sat in Theranos ‘Board of Directors.
But this week, jurors heard mostly intricate technical reports about the problems with Therano’s blood tests. Only two witnesses, both scientists, testified when prosecutors tried to show that Mrs. Holmes had deliberately misled investors and others because of her startup track record.
Here are three takeaways from the week.
A laboratory director in Theranos emerged as the key to the prosecution.
Dr. Adam Rosendorff, who joined Theranos as laboratory director in April 2013 before leaving the company in 2014, began his testimony last week and is still continuing on Friday. His four days on the stand have so far been the longest of any witnesses in the trial. He resumes Tuesday.
His testimony stood out because of his leading position in Theranos’ laboratory. While previous witnesses, including Mrs. Cheung, also testified about Therano’s failed tests, Dr. Rosendorff gave more details about the problems – including how a test was so inaccurate that it had “lost any diagnostic value” – and patient complaints.
He also had access to Mrs Holmes and said she had been aware of his concerns but still pushed forward with Theranos’ commercial launch.
In his testimony, Dr.
“The business was more about PR and fundraising than patient care,” he said.
John Carreyrou, who revealed Theranos’ problems in 2015 while on The Wall Street Journal, revealed Tuesday that Dr. Rosendorff was his “first and most important source” for breaking history.
“Hats off to his courage and integrity,” Mr Carreyrou said wrote on Twitter.
Prosecutors stressed that Theranos’ tests did not work.
The prosecution’s strategy this week was centered on hammering home how Theranos’ machines routinely failed quality control tests and delivered inaccurate results.
An e-mail presented under Dr. Rosendorff’s testimony described a patient who had not felt “right” since increasing her dose of blood-thinning medication in response to an erroneous Theranos test result.
Prosecutors went with another witness, Dr. Victoria Sung, who worked as a senior researcher at the pharmaceutical company Celgene while under contract with Theranos, through a Celgene slide show. It contained an analysis of Theranos’ tests that showed more useless results and greater fluctuations than from commercially available alternatives.
In the end, Celgene terminated its Theranos deal.
The defense tried to put the blame for Therano’s test problems on the laboratory director.
Lance Wade, Mrs Holmes’ lawyer, spent three days this week grilling Dr. Rosendorff to establish that it was the laboratory director – and not his client – who was legally responsible for what had happened in Theranos’ laboratory.
Wade emphasized Dr. Rosendorff’s advanced scientific credentials compared to Mrs. Holmes’s dropping out of Stanford University during her sophomore year. Dr. Rosendorff admitted that Mrs Holmes never required him to report an inaccurate result.
But according to emails and testimonies introduced by the government, Dr. Rosendorff raised concerns about inaccurate tests and errors in quality control to Ms. Holmes and other top executives. Other e-mail chains showed that Dr. Rosendorff was left out of patient complaints and test decisions.
On Friday, Mr. Wade tried to punch holes in Dr. Rosendorff’s credibility and pointed out times when he was slow to respond to doctors’ complaints. Sir. Wade also showed the jury’s emails between Dr. Rosendorff, Mrs. Holmes, and former Theranos chief, Sunny Balwani, to show that they had been receptive to Dr. Rosendorff’s concerns.