Showing posts sorted by relevance for query theranos. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query theranos. Sort by date Show all posts

October 20, 2015

The Theranos contretemps as a serious scandal

Last Thursday WSJ released a long article on Theranos clinical lab. In this blog you may check my February and July posts on this firm under the title: A closely guarded secret. As you may imagine, such a title was not coincidental. There were some clues that justified it, something unusual was happening. And WSJ has contributed to shed light on the issue. All the details in it. Basically, the summary is that analytic validity and clinical validity is under compromise. This is an exemple:

If you want to read a first person account, you'll find it here and here. Some additional articles: Wired, New Yorker, Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), Forbes, NYT, WP,...
This is not only a contretemps, it is a serious scandal and a huge problem to credibility for this start-up.
From Wired:
Theranos got a lot of traction by tapping into the frustration—both from consumers and the medical community—that diagnostic testing is too painful, too slow, and too expensive. “Their problem is they tried to do it with existing diagnostic instrumentation, instead of innovating new diagnostic instrumentation,”

Theranos is a black box that has touted results rather than process. “The ability of the lab medicine community to police and correct itself depends on that flow of information,” says Master. Instead, Theranos’ research was internal, and rather than submit their work to peer review the company cited their FDA approvals as evidence that the technology worked.
At least in the USA there is a regulator, the FDA, lab regulation in Europe was enacted in 1998, completely outdated under a third party scheme, not a direct public regulator. Therefore, there is a pressing motive to speed up new and different rules in Europe. Microfluidics and nanotechnologies are calling for and urgent overhaul.

 PS. An statement from WSJ:
In 2005, Ms. Holmes hired Ian Gibbons, a British biochemist who had researched systems to handle and process tiny quantities of fluids. His collaboration with other Theranos scientists produced 23 patents, according to records filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ms. Holmes is listed as a co-inventor on 19 of the patents.

The patents show how Ms. Holmes’s original idea morphed into the company’s business model. But progress was slow. Dr. Gibbons “told me nothing was working,” says his widow, Rochelle. In May 2013, Dr. Gibbons committed suicide. Theranos’s Ms. King says the scientist “was frequently absent from work in the last years of his life, due to health and other problems.” Theranos disputes the claim that its technology was failing.

September 3, 2021

The Theranos scam whistleblower

 Thicker Than Water

From the hero whistleblower of the infamous Theranos scam, Thicker than Water is a look at never-before-revealed details behind closed doors at the company, revealing a cautionary tale of corporate bullying, gaslighting, ego, and wealth run amok in Silicon Valley.

Tyler Shultz had been in the workforce for less than a year when he emailed Elizabeth Holmes, his employer and the CEO and founder of Theranos, with concerns that the company’s lab practices were faulty, ignored quality control, and were potentially dangerous to patients. The COO fired back with a dismissive and insulting email, to which Tyler replied: "Consider this my two weeks’ notice."

From there, his life spun out of control at the hand of Elizabeth, her team of high-powered lawyers, and the patriarch of Tyler’s own family, George Shultz—one of America’s most prominent statesmen, who sat among the top of the Theranos Board of Directors. And yet, Tyler forged on. To protect his own conscience, the honor and reputation of his grandfather, and the health of patients worldwide.

Thicker than Water is Tyler’s as-told-to story—a harrowing and heartbreaking roller coaster of biomedical drama, family intrigue, and redemption—that will ultimately make you feel as though you are at a dinner party, seated next to a brilliant friend with one hell of a story. 

October 26, 2018

The media and the Theranos incredible deception

On Theranos failure, highly recommended for journalists.
From CBSNEWS, a basic piece to understand the power of the media in creating and destroying (false) value:

Was the media duped by Elizabeth Holmes?
A conversation with 60 Minutes about media coverage of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her hot startup, Theranos

July 15, 2018

Fake lab tests

Bad blood

We all know that we live in a post-truth society. But this may have strong effect in your health. The case of Theranos, a US lab is explained in an excellent book by John Carreryrou is a precise example. You create an expectation that with a blood drop all tests can be done, you develop the narrative, the social and entrepreneurial support, and...while the regulator is on vacation (as usual) you perform fake test that can endanger your health. Imagine that your coefficient of variation is 34-48%, while it should be less than 10%!. The results may hurt you directly.
The book provides a lot of details:
As for the lab itself, it was a mess: the company had allowed unqualified personnel to handle patient samples, it had stored blood at the wrong temperatures, it had let reagents expire, and it had failed to inform patients of flawed test results, among many other lapses
And strong messages for start-up investors:
By positioning Theranos as a tech company in the heart of the Valley, Holmes channeled this fake-it-until-you-make-it culture, and she went to extreme lengths to hide the fakery. Many companies in Silicon Valley make their employees sign nondisclosure agreements, but at Theranos the obsession with secrecy reached a whole different level.
FT recommends this book for this summer, and I agree that it will help you to understand and avoid similar fake business that we can detect around us. It should never happen again.

July 13, 2015

A closely guarded secret (2)

Direct Access Testing is the next battle for a new market for lab testing. This is at least what Theranos considers and has been lobbying for. Last December in The New Yorker there was an explanation about the firm and its goals. Afterwards JAMA added some caveats on the secretive way of conducting business and I wrote a post on that. Now The Economist has published an article with the details of the current situation about their business model.
Selling tests directly to the patient is a controversial issue. As in most of prescriptions, patients don't know enough to prescribe for themselves. However, how much is enough?. Arizona is starting to liberalise such prescriptions after Theranos successful lobbying efforts. Professional societies reflect in a position paper their perspectives on the issue.
My view is very straightforward: avoiding commercialism in health care. Under insurance coverage, prescriptions should be required after being cleared by regulators. Without insurance coverage, recreational tests have also to be licensed by regulatory authorities under a disclosure process that has not been the Theranos case. Nowadays, it still remains a secret. Selected tests could be accepted without prescription according to its implications on Health and information accuracy.

September 17, 2021

Theranos on trial

 Podcast: 'The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial'

ABC News' #1 podcast is back with new episodes, available on Tuesdays.

Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception. The story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is an unbelievable tale of ambition and fame gone terribly wrong.

You'll find it in Spotify every week


May 18, 2021

A quantum leap on microfluidics for in vitro diagnostics

 On the Wireless Microwave Sensing of Bacterial Membrane Potential in Microfluidic-Actuated Platforms

You may remember my posts on Theranos, the company that wanted to solve in vitro diagnostics (IVD) with a drop of blood. The underlying technology was microfluidics, however at that stage was inmature, and finally Theranos was a massive fraud and Elizabeth Holmes is right now on trial.

Now you can read an interesting article in Sensors journal that tries to combine microfluidics and wireless technologies for detecting bacteria. Microfluidics is defined as the manipulation of a fluid in micrometer-sized structures or channels. In such microchannels, the behavior of a liquid is significantly different than at the macroscale. Surface effects and viscosity start to dominate and flows such as laminar flows are more predictable.

If this procedure finally works in practice, it would represent a quantum leap on In Vitro Diagnostics. Time will tell us if this is so.

March 22, 2019

The Theranos contretemps as a serious scandal (2)

The DropoutPodcast by ABC Radio & ABC News Nightline

The inventor

Now you can hear the ABC radio podcast in 6 chapters on Theranos scandal. Report at The Verge. Highly recommended.

And the HBO new documentary explains all the details in 2 hours. The trailer:

April 13, 2018

The uncertain cost of clinical trials

How much do clinical trials cost?

A research on seven top pharmaceutical companies has provided fresh data about costs of clinical trials:
For the trials in the data set, the median cost of conducting a study from protocol approval to final clinical trial report was US$3.4 million for phase I trials involving patients, $8.6 million for phase II trials and $21.4 million for phase III trials.
If you compare these data with the total drug costs (2.6 billion), you may ask yourself how all these costs are estimated. Maybe all this information is wrong and useless.

PS. Waiting for the new book on Theranos scandal

Pharma sales 2017

Kupka au Grand Palais

March 16, 2018

The smart money in tech would not have made this mistake

It's about Theranos. You may find my previous posts in this link. Now SEC has confirmed that was a "massive fraud". That's it. If you want a good analysis check FT.
Microfluidics is not an easy prêt-à-porter technology. Many people knew it but Mrs Holmes has been selling it as snake-oil. And as usual in these cases, the end of the film is already written. She can't go to the lab for the next 10 years, a fine, and the company may be closed. All started with and article by Mathew Herper in WSJ. An innocent article with an innocent question that she couldn't answer. That's all. Silicon valley smart money would not have made this mistake.

April 29, 2016

European health regulation on lab tests, the final round? (2)

Last week, Theranos clinical lab has received more bad news. Though the final resolution is still pending, all available informations raise concerns about the acuracy of such lab.Could this happen in Europe? My feeling is that the outdated and obsolete regulation could replicate the story.
In Europe, in vitro diagnostics regulation was decided 18 years ago!. The last proposal debated two years ago in the Parliament got no final agreement. I have explained the inefficiency of european parliament formerly. Health care safety and quality deserves better regulation and specially in lab tests.
Beyond safety issues, the value of lab tests require deeper assessment. Current proposals are not taking into account properly this issue. Now is the moment to introduce it in the final proposal, otherwise it will forgotten for the next two decades.

PS. Have a look at this article: A Systematic Review of Health Economic Evaluations of Diagnostic Biomarkers

Manhattan i Queens (Fragment), oli sobre tela, 60 × 150cm

February 27, 2015

A closely guarded secret

Stealth Research. Is Biomedical Innovation Happening Outside the Peer-Reviewed Literature?

How can we identify a snake-oil seller?. Not so easy. Have a look  at JAMA, John Ioannidis article shows his concerns about Theranos, a company that is providing lab services with a new propietary technology that has no peer-review article in any scientific publication. Nobody can check tests sensibility and specifity, no external quality controls, and so on.
If this is the path for the future of health care provision, then I am really concerned because it will be a complete disaster. No consumer protection, no regulation, uncertain science and more uncertain outcomes. After all this years, is this what citizens deserve?.
Such style of "laissez-faire, laissez-passer" medicine could represent huge profits for some and a big loss for everyone.
Otherwise some alternative should be proposed to boost publication and transparency. The author's suggestion is the following one:
To solve this conundrum, it may be necessary to find ways to realign the reward system for innovation. One possibility is to make the scientific literature more receptive to innovators. This could include models in which reports of disruptive discoveries that are in dissonance with the mainstream can still be communicated as preprints without prior peer review, perhaps in the same way as the successful example of arXiv in the physical sciences, which has now reached 1 million e-print articles. That there has been no peer review of these initial reports should be transparent to researchers and the public.
Thus, some better regulatory process is needed so that innovative ideas for financially successful applications can be scrutinized by the wider scientific community as to their validity. A company should not be forced to disclose its science secrets in detail, especially while its efforts are still exploratory rial-and error and while creating basic elements for its products and services. However, if a product or service reaches the point at which it generates substantial revenue, the science behind it should then be communicated in detail to ensure adequate review.