The Dark True Story of the Fake Science Behind Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos Invention

During the start of Disney plus’ drama miniseries, The Dropout, which follows Elizabeth Holmes (portrayed by Amanda Seyfried), who is the crooked health-tech entrepreneur and we notice her gazing at an iPod in her hand.

She pledged to people, her ambition of making her company the Apple of healthcare; not just disturbing it, rather completely revamping it.

In 2004, Holmes dropped out of Stanford University in reality when she was only at the age of 19 in order to turn her dream into a fact using her new technology. But there was only one problem: it had no existence.

What Is Theranos?

The initial concept of Holmes was to anyhow engineer a skin patch that wouldn’t just be capable of treating health problems, rather also be capable of dose any necessary medication also.

A Stanford professor gave this a clear “nope” saying “I don’t think your idea is going to work,” and many other specific experts she got in touch with also weren’t positive about her idea.

Unruffled, she didn’t stop, starting a company named Real-Time Cures, and eventually became Theranos, till she got the concept of a blood test that uses a tiny amount of blood which could be checked for a lot of health examinations.

The days of threatening blood tests using needles and bigger vessels of blood are gone and using the latest and simpler method, it signified medical issues could be spotted previously, providing a better opportunity of curing disease to people with timely diagnosis.

Alongside leveling off healthcare, in a 2014 TED talk, she said “We see a world in which no one ever has to say, ‘If only I’d known sooner. A world in which no one ever has to say goodbye too soon.”

What Broke Down With Theranos?

The Dark True Story of the Fake Science Behind Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos Invention
The Dark True Story of the Fake Science Behind Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos Invention

Since the beginning, the technology was inadequate; a small drop of blood would be put into a small, one-centimeter container known as a container; probably adapted from the 2005 iPod Nano, whose creator named Steve Jobs, her idol.

This tiny volume of blood would later be examined by a secret device named the Edison, which, as claimed, was capable of doing up to two-hundred tests on it, since this Wayback Machine cache proved about what Theranos indeed provided during the time.

According to a study from Cases and Tools in Biotechnology Management by Trent Tucker, the issue with the science was that with the use of just a tiny amount of blood (a non-negotiable USP for Holmes), the quantity would not be sufficient to read, and hence the dilution of blood would be necessary, which would alter the data on examination.

Additionally, Neil Jurkiewicz mentioned in that book that “Another problem was that the composition of the blood taken from a finger prick would not have a common concentration like what would be found if taken from a vein… this would distort the data.”Holmes herself seemed to have a little knowledge of this factious scientific procedure she had ultimately pioneered.

During an interview with The New Yorker, Holmes keyed herself up in problems, certainly, putting efforts in order to explain a blood test system that had not been discovered “A chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”

Apart from these shocking problems, the tests were not approved by the FDA, and that was neglected by Holmes and kept selling the products hiding the fact about the ability of their testing. Thanks to her soft-spoken investors, Theranos was valued at $9 billion at its highest point.

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Holmes also cracked a deal with Walgreens in which an amount of $140 million was invested by the company, and then Theranos embarked on forty wellness centers in 2013 in Arizona and traded over 1,500,000 blood tests to 176,000 people.

However, John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal conducted an investigation in 2015,​​ whistleblowers broke the entire story down. 

Did science ever prove effective? No, according to people who were involved thoroughly in the project. When chief scientist of Theranos, Ian Gibbons, confirmed that their machinery and laboratory equipment failed to give appropriate test results.

Holmes dismissed him and perpetuated to mislead investors and pharmaceutical companies regarding its efficiency. With this, Holmes, like we can see in a stressed and blood-splashed sequence in The Dropout, was providing spoofed and doctored demos to companies such as Novartis in Switzerland with the use of commercial lab machinery of competitor Siemon.

The Edison machine just never worked; and when challenged with this proof publicly, Holmes just kept repeating her lies.

In a class action legal case filed by the residents of Arizona, the court heard how a woman who performed a Theranos test was conveyed that she was losing her baby, while she was still pregnant.

The rest of the patients were provided an incorrect positive HIV test; whereas another was incorrectly asked to halt having his blood-thinning medicines. In an appalling sequence in The Dropout, she was seen forcing one of her employees to bring Edison into an oncology ward for testing patients having stage three and stage four cancer.

This actually took place in reality, she intentionally arranged fifteen-month research since 2007 that evaluated how twenty-seven final-stage cancer patients reacted to diagnosis, reviewed by Theranos products, which she was aware to be deceitful.

But necessary steps weren’t taken against her through 2017. Theranos was pressed to pay a compensation of $4.65 million to Arizona customers within a consumer-fraud settlement guided by the Arizona Attorney.

At the same time, there was a settlement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services following Theranos was proved to put an “immediate jeopardy” to consumers.

What Crimes Was Elizabeth Holmes Found Guilty of?

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implicated Theranos and Holmes in 2018 for misleading investors with “massive fraud” by falsified claims regarding their devices, along with claims that the US Defence was making use of it in fighting situations.

Holmes paid a penalty of $500,000, had to return 18.9 million shares to the company, additionally, a ten-year bar was imposed on her from working as a director of a public company.

Though in the big case of U.S. v. Holmes, et al., which also began in 2018, Holmes and Sunny Balwani who was her business and personal partner, were charged on 9 counts of wire fraud and 2 counts of conspiracy to execute wire fraud, with the targets being both investors as well as patients.

The hearing did not end through January 2022, when she was charged for 4 counts of cunning investors; but, critically for those whose lives were ruined due to her incorrect medical treatments, she was pleaded not guilty of cunning patients.

When Will Elizabeth Holmes Be Convicted?

On September 26, 2022, Homes and Balwani, both will be sentenced and could be sent to prison for twenty years, along with paying penalties of millions of dollars. In accordance with her behavior during the entire story, she hasn’t pleaded guilty.

Stay tuned to our website to get all the latest information.

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