Former Pfizer scientist testifies in Elizabeth Holmes trial

Oct. 26, 2021

In the ongoing trial for Elizabeth Holmes, the former head of Theranos, jurors are now hearing evidence about how the company manipulated its relationship with pharma to perpetuate an alleged massive fraud.

Recently, a former scientist from Pfizer named Shane Weber took the stand to explain that he connected with Holmes to hear about the Theranos mobile blood testing devices, which Holmes said could perform hundreds of tests with a single drop of blood, but he wasn’t convinced. According to a CNN report, Weber testified that he thought Holmes provided “evasive, non-informative answers” to his questions, and he later advised Pfizer against working with the biotech startup.

Nevertheless, the prosecution in Holmes’ case, which is gunning for a fraud conviction, said that Holmes put Pfizer’s logo on marketing materials that were later sent to Walgreens, which ultimately did partner with Theranos.

The prosecution used Weber’s testimony to illustrate how Holmes and Theranos provided the illusion that a major pharma company had vetted its claims. Several reports about the scandal have also revealed that Theranos said it was partnering with GlaxoSmithKline — a claim the company staunchly rejected. In 2006, Holmes also reportedly met with Novartis and said it had struck over a dozen deals with Big Pharma companies, even though there is no evidence that Theranos ever did partner with a pharma company.

In reality, Weber’s testimony about Pfizer’s interaction with Theranos shows how pharma companies who looked closely at Theranos could read the tea leaves and weren’t satisfied with its claims. 

Holmes is now staring down over a dozen charges of fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison.