A few drops of blood from your finger should be enough to carry out extensive medical analyzes – for this announcement, the US startup "Theranos" was valued by investors at up to nine billion dollars. That was around 10 years ago (company founded in 2003).
Now founder Elizabeth Holmes, once celebrated as a US model entrepreneur, has been found guilty of fraud against investors. The jury found four out of eleven counts of charges. Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Holmes had raised several hundred million dollars from investors. Among others, the drugstore chain Walgreens got involved and sold Theranos blood tests in their stores. As it turned out, however, the technology never worked reliably enough – the "few drops of blood" just weren't enough and had to be stretched out, and the pressure on the fingertips also probably falsified analysis values.
A central problem with this method was that the analysis machines used were designed for larger amounts of blood from the veins of the patients. Theranos stretched the little finger tests because of this, but this led to problems with the accuracy of some tests. According to experts, another factor was that the pressure on the fingertips when taking blood changes the nature of the samples – which could also lead to incorrect analysis values. However, the results served doctors as a point of reference for possible diseases and treatments.
Theranos had to cancel test results across the board and finally shut down in 2018 – the financiers got nothing.
The 37-year-old defendant has always denied the allegation of fraud and can appeal the verdict.