Pfizer Scientist: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos Used Company Logo Without Permission
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Testimony revealed Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos issued marketing materials to future partner Walgreens that included the use of Pfizer’s corporate logo despite Pfizer’s decline to partner with the startup blood-testing company.
The ongoing criminal trial of Holmes revealed the misrepresentation of Pfizer’s logo. Testimony from Shane Weber, a former Pfizer scientist at the criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes, revealed that while Pfizer employed him, he declined a business proposition that could have tied Pfizer and Theranos together. In a testimony delivered Friday, Weber, who worked as director of diagnostics for Pfizer and is now retired, described the due diligence he undertook in 2008 when examining the company’s technology and claims.
Weber reviewed a Theranos study, as well as the company’s patent information. The Wall Street Journal reported Weber also participated in a telephone call with Holmes and issued follow-up emails. After vetting the information, Weber opted to keep Pfizer from partnering with or investing in Theranos.
CNN reported, Weber said that during the telephone call he had with Holmes, he found her to be “deflective” and that she provided “evasive non-informative answers” to his questions.
According to the CNN report, following that call and his review of the data, Weber wrote in his report to Pfizer that “Theranos does not at this time have any diagnostic or clinical interest to Pfizer.”
Still, one year later, Theranos issued a report to Walgreens that included the Pfizer company logo, providing an illusion that the pharma giant was backing the diagnostics company. According to the prosecution, the misrepresentation lends weight to the levels of fraud that Holmes engaged in.
The report sent to Walgreens, which eventually partnered with Theranos in 2013 and provided testing at some of its stores in the Southwest, highlighted data from a 15-month study of cancer patients that supposedly measured response to treatments. The patients were provided Theranos blood-testing devices for in-home use and submitted the data through an online portal.
According to court documents cited by the Journal, the data showed wild variations between the test subjects, which Theranos never explained. Weber testified that he shared the Theranos study with oncology experts at Pfizer who supported his concerns. In a seven-page report shared with the court, Weber wrote that Theranos’ arguments and claims about its accomplishments were unconvincing. He also wrote that the nine conclusions presented by Theranos in its report were “not believable,” the Journal said. One such claim was that “the Theranos System performed with superior performance.” The Journal noted Weber testified that he disagreed with that claim.
The prosecution said Holmes sent a nearly identical report that Weber had dismissed to Walgreens, except this copy included the Pfizer logo, implying that the company had vetted the Theranos claims. According to the Journal, Weber testified he had not been aware of the Theranos deception until the prosecution had shown him the document.
Weber also testified that even after Holmes was told Pfizer was not interested in partnering with Theranos, Holmes pressed him for other names at the company she could reach out to. He said he “politely deflected” her inquiries.
Holmes, along with former Theranos President Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, were charged with multiple counts of fraud in 2018. According to the charges that the government brought against the duo, from 2013 to 2015, Holmes and Balwani raised more than $700 million from investors for falsely claiming their single-drop blood-testing technology would revolutionize the medical industry.