Brittany Gould testified on Tuesday that she had taken two Theranos blood tests at a Walgreens location in Arizona that both indicated her hCG levels were dropping, according to multiple media reports.
Gould’s nurse practitioner Audra Zachman received the Theranos test results and told her that the results indicated that she was miscarrying and the pair allegedly discussed terminating the pregnancy due to the test results, Silicon Valley News reports.
However, Gould testified that she took three other tests during her early pregnancy through Quest Diagnostics – one prior to the Theranos test and two after – that all indicated a healthy pregnancy.
Zachman, who also testified on Tuesday, filed a complaint with Theranos about the inaccuracies of the tests. She said she also stopped sending patients to get Theranos blood tests.
“I felt very uncertain of the validity of the results and felt uncomfortable as a provider continuing to have my patients use it,” Zachman said during her testimony, CNBC reports.
Theranos allegedly said a human data-entry error caused the results and sent a corrected result that moved a decimal point but the hCG levels were still enough to raise concerns about Gould’s pregnancy, Zachman testified. The prosecution presented a letter from the Silicon Valley, California company that apologized for the original inaccuracy and said that those types of errors were “extremely rare,” Silicon Valley News reports. It was signed by Holmes’ brother and Theranos employee Christian Holmes.
Gould eventually carried her pregnancy to full-term and testified that she never used a Theranos product again after the birth of her child.
Holmes’ defense attorneys cross-examined Zachman who acknowledged that her clinic accepted offers from Theranos in 2015 to collaborate on a research study, Silicon Valley News reports. Defense attorney Katie Trefz asked the nurse practitioner if she could recall that her clinic referred patients for Theranos tests following the study results, to which Zachman testified she didn’t refer anyone herself. Trefz also asked Zachman if she was aware that her clinic received results from nearly 20,000 Theranos test orders between September 2014 and October 2016, to which she said no.
Former Theranos scientist Surekha Gangakhedkar also took the stand again on Tuesday to face cross-examination from her testimony last week. Defense attorneys presented a September 2013 email that former Theranos president and COO Sunny Balwani sent to Gangakhedkar’s team and Holmes that suggested the scientist wasn’t working hard enough.
In the email, Balwani said that the software team had worked until well after 3 a.m. one morning and was back in the lab by 10 a.m. and all the Edison devices were “all sitting idle,” CNBC reports.
“In the email he essentially boasts about the oppressive hours his team was working as though that was a badge of honor or something,” Holmes’ defense attorney Lance Wade said during the cross-examination. “He’s trying to make you feel guilty about the fact that you weren’t working, wasn’t he?”
Gangakhedkar testified that Balwani was allegedly guilting her and her entire team.
Holmes’ defense attorneys also started to shift some of the blame to Balwani, claiming that he criticized Holmes about the software team since Holmes was Gangakhedkar’s supervisor.
The prosecution is expected to call Justin Offen to the witness stand in the coming days. Offen is an employee from PricewaterhouseCoopers who will testify about private text messages sent between Holmes and Balwani. Prosecutors have said that they have more than 12,000 messages between the pair, but will only show a few of those messages, according to CNBC.
Holmes and her defense attorneys are still planning to present claims that Balwani, who was also Holmes’ former romantic partner, abused her emotionally and psychologically. Balwani has denied the allegations. Holmes’s attorneys have said in court papers that she could take the witness stand to describe her romantic relationship with Balwani.
Holmes and Theranos were once believed to be the next shining stars of Silicon Valley. Holmes claimed her company would revolutionize blood testing with technology that could analyze tiny amounts of blood and inked retail partnerships with Walgreens and Safeway. Forbes in 2015 recognized Holmes as America’s richest self-made woman based on Theranos’ multibillion-dollar valuation at the time.
Investigative reporting soon dismantled Holmes’ technological claims, raising questions about whether she and others misled investors. The downward spiral culminated in the 2018 shutdown of the company, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accusing Holmes and Balwani of what it described as a “massive fraud.”
Holmes faces 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud over allegations that she knowingly misled investors by claiming Theranos technology could revolutionize blood testing. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Balwani’s trial is expected to follow the Holmes trial.