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Elizabeth Holmes pushed faster Theranos Walgreens rollout: Testimony


Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, attends a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015.

Brendan McDermid, Reuters SAN JOSE (CALIF.) – An ex-Theranos scientist said that Elizabeth Holmes made her validate the results of the Edison machine’s blood tests to accelerate the rollout at Walgreens.| Reuters

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – A former Theranos scientist testified Friday that Elizabeth Holmes pressured her to validate blood test results from the company’s Edison machine to speed up a rollout in Walgreens despite problems with the device’s accuracy.

Surekha Gangakhedkar (a former senior scientist at Theranos, who was directly responsible to Holmes) testified that in August 2013, she came back from a vacation and found that Theranos was about launch the Edison blood-testing equipment in Walgreens.

Gangakhedkar stated that she was worried about the launch because it was making her feel stressed. Gangakhedkar said, “I wasn’t comfortable with their plans so I decided to quit and not work there.”

Gangakhedkar said that she met Holmes with September 2013 to talk about the problems which led her resignation.

Gangakhedkar said that Holmes had mentioned she promised the customer delivery and was forced to proceed with the launch.

Ms. Holmes stated that she had no choice. Robert Leach, an Assistant U.S. Attorney was asked the question.

She replied, “Yes”, she said.

Gangakhedkar, despite signing a confidentiality agreement, said she had printed several documents and brought them home after she quit. Gangakhedkar also stated she was concerned about her launch.

Gangakhedkar got immunity from any criminal charges for giving her testimony.

According to Gangakhedkar, in August 2013, she said that Edison 3.0 was not ready for patient testing. Gangakhedkar said that Holmes had been pressuring her team to validate their tests, even though she “in my view was aware” of accuracy problems.

Holmes, who is facing 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiring to commit wirefraud, has pleaded no guilty. Her defense lawyer told jurors in opening statements that Holmes was an ambitious young lady who made mistakes, but did not commit any crime.

Erika Cheung, an ex-lab associate and whistleblower who testified earlier in the day ended her testimony three days later. Cheung stated that there were frequent problems with quality control at the lab, which caused delays for patients.

Cheung said that some people were forced to sleep in their cars due to the long wait. “Every day we had to run the samples over and again for a few days.”

Cheung, a college graduate who joined Theranos six month ago, stated that she became concerned about the Vitamin D samples around a month after being hired.

Gangakhedkar continues her testimony Tuesday. Next up, the government intends to summon Daniel Edlin to testify. Edlin is a project manger who worked directly with Holmes on the Walgreens partnership. Christian Holmes was also a friend of Edlin.