Elizabeth Holmes's Latest Crisis May Be Her Most Devastating Yet

by Daniel Barna

Things are going to get much worse for Theranos before they get better. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Holmes’s beleaguered blood testing company has told thousands of patients that the test results it sent from 2014 and 2015 were invalid.

The implications of the admission are dangerous. Incorrect blood tests, which were administered by the company’s signature Edison machines, mean that thousands of people may have received incorrect treatment from doctors.

For instance, one doctor sent a patient to the emergency room with what were revealed to be normal test results. At the time, the doctor received “abnormally elevated test results” from a test conducted with a Theranos machine.

According to Geoffrey Baird, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, a recall of this size and scale is unprecedented in the industry. “There have been massive recalls of single tests in the past, but I’m not aware of one where a company recalled the entirety of the results from its testing platform,” he told WSJ.

Holmes built her biotech empire based on the claims that her machines could deliver accurate test results with just the prick of a finger. But the startup has been under fire since the fall, when the Wall Street Journal reported major failures in Theranos’s clinical labs.

Once the darling of the industry, Holmes was facing heavy backlash and the threat of being banned from the industry for two years. Whether or not she and her company can fully recover after this latest misstep remains to be seen. 

Learn more about the world of startups with a copy of The Lean Startup, and let us know if you think Theranos can recover.

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