Health

Theranos hired its president’s dermatologist as lab director in 2014, testimony shows

Elizabeth Holmes, founding father of Theranos Inc., arrives at federal courtroom in San Jose, California, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Photos

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — As Theranos’ troubles had been mounting in 2014, the blood-testing start-up employed a dermatologist with no board certification in laboratory science or pathology to develop into the lab director.

In line with courtroom testimony on Thursday within the criminal trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, Sunil Dhawan was introduced on in a brief function by Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who was the corporate’s president.

Dhawan was Balwani’s longtime dermatologist. He was referred to as as a witness by prosecutors, who’re making an attempt to show that Holmes bilked hundreds of thousands of {dollars} out of buyers whereas knowingly deceptive sufferers and medical doctors in regards to the firm’s blood-testing know-how. Holmes, who faces 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy, has pleaded not responsible.

Dhawan testified that Balwani, who was then in a romantic relationship with Holmes, advised him “the time dedication could be very minimal.” In a November 2014 electronic mail, Balwani additionally advised him that “this shall be principally an on-call consulting function,” mentioned Dhawan, who met federal and state necessities to be a lab director.

Within the San Jose courtroom, Jeff Schenk, an assistant U.S. legal professional, requested Dhawan, “Did he describe to you what Theranos did?”

In response, Dhawan mentioned that he searched Google to study Theranos’ know-how, including that he “had one brief dialog about it,” with Balwani.

Dhawan testified that between November 2014 and the summer time of 2015, he solely went to the lab twice and labored a complete of 5 to 10 hours. He advised jurors that he by no means met any staff, physicians or sufferers.

Dhawan was employed to interchange Adam Rosendorff, who give up in 2014 amid mounting frustrations in regards to the inaccuracies and false outcomes of the blood assessments. Not like Dhawan, Rosendorff was a board licensed pathologist who spent on daily basis contained in the lab.

Schenk continued, “There wasn’t one time you spoke to a Theranos worker who labored within the lab?”

“I do not recall any dialog in that size of time,” Dhawan mentioned.

Dhawan added that he did not meet Holmes till September 2015. He advised jurors that he turned extra concerned on the firm that month as regulators deliberate to audit the lab.

In his cross-examination, protection legal professional Lance Wade, who’s representing Holmes, requested Dhawan about Balwani’s significance on the firm.

“You understood he was one of many high two executives on the firm?” Wade requested.

“My assumption was he was a high govt,” Dhawan mentioned.

“He was working the laboratory from an operational standpoint, right?” Wade requested.

Dhawan responded, “I can not touch upon that as a result of I used to be by no means advised he was working the lab, nevertheless it was my assumption he was yeah.”

Balwani was charged with the identical crimes as Holmes. He additionally pleaded not responsible and shall be tried individually subsequent yr. Dhawan’s testimony continues Friday.

Sunny Balwani, former president and chief working officer of Theranos Inc., leaves federal courtroom in San Jose, California, Oct. 2, 2019.

Michael Brief | Bloomberg | Getty Photos

‘The precise magic’

Earlier Thursday, a former Walgreens senior govt, Nimesh Jhaveri, took the stand.

Jhaveri mentioned Walgreens’ aim in its partnership with Theranos was to permit prospects to get their lab outcomes with only a few drops of blood. Offering a extra environment friendly and fewer painful course of than conventional labs can be “extraordinary,” Jhaveri mentioned.

“It was altering the lab atmosphere,” Jhaveri mentioned. “Much less blood required was the precise magic, it was so intriguing to us at Walgreens.”

Walgreens invested $140 million into the failed firm. Clinics with the blood-testing know-how had been rolled out to 40 drugstores in Arizona and one in California. In August 2014, a yr into the partnership, Walgreens lower its rollout aim of 500 Theranos wellness facilities to 200.

“Value was an impediment, coaching our crew members was an impediment, hiring phlebotomists was an impediment,” Jhaveri mentioned. “Your complete working mannequin was not perfected in order that’s why we determined to scale back the quantity.”

Jhaveri mentioned he advised Balwani they wanted to have an in depth plan to enhance affected person expertise in the event that they deliberate to broaden. Beneath cross-examination, Jhaveri advised jurors that he had minimal contact with Holmes, assembly together with her solely two or thrice.

Jhaveri mentioned Walgreens took “a step again” when former Wall Road Journal reporter John Carreyrou first broke the story that Theranos was deceptive prospects and buyers about its testing accuracy. In 2016, Walgreens started pulling the plug on Theranos providers inside its drugstores.

WATCH: Former employees and patients testify in Elizabeth Holmes trial


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