The meteoric rise and dramatic fall of Theranos: lessons learned for the diagnostic industry

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Abstract

In this piece we discuss and reflect on the conclusion of the Theranos saga in the light of its fraud conviction. Theranos (founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes) was supposed to disrupt the diagnostic testing industry by developing technology which could perform dozens of tests using a tiny amount of blood from a finger-prick. As a result, Ms. Holmes rose to fame, becoming the world's youngest female self-made billionaire and was plastered across magazine covers. However, in 2014, Theranos began to fall apart following increasingly damaging revelations regarding its lack of expertise, technology, framework, extreme secrecy and inaccurate test results. This led to the closure of two of its laboratories, investor and patient lawsuits and the devaluation of Ms. Holmes's wealth to nothing. In March 2018, the United States Security Exchange Commission ordered Ms. Holmes to pay $500,000 to settle the charge of massive fraud and barred her from being a director of a publicly owned company for 10 years, likely concluding Theranos's endeavors. We conclude our series of articles on this topic by reflecting on the lessons the laboratory medicine community can learn from Theranos.

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