Former Theranos Manager Tells Of Unrelenting Pressure From CEO Elizabeth Holmes
Upon quitting her role as manager at Theranos, Surekha Gangakhedkar says she printed off company documents to protect herself as she suspected the pending launch of the company’s blood-testing machines in Walgreens would end sourly.
Eight years later, on Friday, Gangakhedkar was testifying at the criminal trial of her former employer, Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO and founder of Theranos Inc.
Gangakhedkar’s testimony is so far the strongest testimony connecting Elizabeth Holmes’ actions to charges that she lied to investors and patients about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing machines. Holmes has pleaded not guilty to all charges. However, if convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.
Criminal defence lawyer James Melendres said Gangakhedkar was worried about Theranos’ criminal liability as early as 2013. Gangakhedkar served as manager of assay systems at the company, directly reporting to Holmes and meeting with her several times each week. Gangakhedkar, who was employed by Theranos for eight years, testified that she made Holmes fully aware of the serious inaccuracies and failings of Theranos’ machines. These claims were supported by emails displayed for jurors on Friday.
Gangakhedkar said she felt unrelenting pressure to approve the company’s blood tests leading up to its Walgreens launch. When asked, Gangakhedkar said the pressure stemmed from Ms Holmes.
In 2016, in a suit that is now settled, Walgreens sued Theranos after it shut down around 40 of the company’s blood-testing sites in Arizona.