Yesterday, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes defended her company against a two-part Wall Street Journal exposé–while speaking on the newspaper’s home turf, at the WSJ.D Live conference. On stage, Holmes spoke with WSJ tech editor Jonathan Krim in a civil but tense discussion, in which she refuted the articles’ claims that the company’s blood-testing system was yielding inaccurate results and that it was using commercially available equipment, rather than proprietary technology, to carry out most of its tests.
Today, Theranos is continuing its rebuttal with a blog post that delineates the claims and implications made in the WSJ‘s report, providing counter-arguments for each point. In several cases, Theranos pushes back against the assertions that it was falsely portraying what it did as a company. For instance, the WSJ report implied that Theranos said that it performed all its blood tests on finger-sticks and that it used proprietary equipment to perform all tests; Theranos, in its blog post today, insisted that it had not made these claims and was therefore not guilty of false advertising.
In other cases, Theranos says the WSJ was incorrect in its reporting. For instance, the WSJ maintained that experts believed that finger-pricked blood samples can be less pure than those drawn from a vein, since it can mix with fluid from tissue and cells. Theranos pointed out that this argument came from a senior scientific director at Quest Diagnostics, which is a direct competitor. He was quoted making this point in a December 2014 article in The New Yorker.
However, a lot of the blog post simply added more context to the WSJ exposé, presenting evidence that Theranos offered that the reporter chose not to include. For instance, the WSJ relied on insights from seven Theranos providers to make the case that the company’s tests were inaccurate. According to the blog post, Theranos showed the reporter that he had misrepresented stories from four of those providers. The other three providers had supposedly refused to engage with Theranos at all, or offered to meet with Theranos only on the condition of receiving a large sum of money upfront. (Nurse Carmen Washington, one of the reporter’s sources, demanded payment of $2,500 for a one-hour meeting.) However, the reporter chose to rely entirely on those three providers in the story, says the Theranos blog post.
While it is still difficult to get to the truth based on the competing claims posited by Theranos and the Wall Street Journal, this blog post provides more insight into the reporting process. It also shows that that Theranos isn’t ready to give up fighting just yet.