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The Most Obviously BS Claims Theranos And Elizabeth Holmes Ever Made

Updated July 23, 2019 411 votes 50 voters 2.3k views13 items

List RulesVote up the most outrageous claims Elizabeth Holmes & co. ever made about Theranos and its non-existent medical tech.

In 2015, inventor Elizabeth Holmes entered the Forbes 400 as the youngest self-made billionaire. She was the CEO of a company called Theranos and promised to change the medical game with an invention she dubbed the Edison, a machine that could quickly produce thousands of accurate blood test results from just a single finger prick. 

Investors flocked to Silicon Valley and poured money into Theranos. There was just one problem: The tests didn't work. Within a few years of launching, Theranos was liquidated. Holmes now faces charges for fraud and possible prison time. While she awaits trial, Holmes continues to live in San Francisco with her fiancé, 27-year-old hotel heir Billy Evans. She's even looking to launch a new startup

If you've seen the documentary The Inventor or read the book Bad Blood, you know Holmes has a complicated relationship with the truth. Her list of cons and the claims she's made about Theranos extend far beyond innocuous white lies.

  • 1

    Theranos's Projected Revenue For 2015 Was $1 Billion

    What Theranos said: Theranos COO Sunny Balwani and Holmes told investors Theranos was on track to make $1 billion in 2015 after generating $100 million in 2014. 

    The reality: According to the SEC filing against Theranos, "This information had no basis." Theranos made only $100,000 in 2014. While Balwani was giving these inflated projections to investors, the company was hemorrhaging almost $9 million a month. 

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  • Photo: HBO
    2

    Theranos Could Test For Countless Conditions With A Single Drop Of Blood 

    What Theranos said: The company claimed the Edison could test for over 1,000 conditions with just one drop of blood in its nanotainer vial. The tests could be done quickly and accurately with Theranos's equipment, even by those without a medical background. It would also cost less than existing tests. 

    The reality: The Edison did not work, nor would it have been able to test upwards of 1,000 conditions. Pieces of the machine easily broke or became stuck. Additionally, medical practitioners say gleaning that many results from such a small sample is impossible. One pathologist, Benjamin Mazer, MD, said:

    The promises were, quite simply, too good to be true. If the thousands of laboratory tests being done on standard venous blood samples could be so easily replicated with finger-stick blood, it surely would have been done.

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  • 3

    Elizabeth Holmes Said Theranos Did Not Need FDA Approval

    What Theranos said: Holmes told investors and employees they didn't need FDA approval for their diagnostic tests.

    The reality: Theranos did need approval, but managed to avoid FDA intervention. The company hid the equipment they knew didn't work during FDA inspections. They also used a loophole by designating their technology as "lab-developed tests," which allowed them to move ahead without official approval.

    The FDA approved just one test for herpes, but a Theranos employee filed a complaint against it saying it was "tainted by breaches in research protocol." 

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  • 4

    The US Department Of Defense Was Using Theranos's Products In Afghanistan

    What Theranos said: Theranos told investors the US Department of Defense was using the company's products. Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani claimed Theranos's blood testing devices were already actively used in medevac helicopters on military battlefields.

    The reality: The product never worked and was certainly not widely used by the government in wartime. Theranos products were, however, part of a government burn study. Theranos made $300,000 over three contracts. Other than that, its products were not approved by officials. 

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