The former laboratory director of the blood testing company Theranos, testifying in the trial for the company's founder who is charged with fraud, said Tuesday that he felt pressured by management to defend lab tests that did not add up.
In a heated email exchange between former lab director Adam Rosendorff and Christian Holmes, brother of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, Christian Holmes asked Rosendorff to come up with a "constructive" way of dealing with a doctor who was puzzled by the Theranos report on a patient's cholesterol numbers.
Believing that the results were due to Theranos's faulty testing rather than to any patient-related issues, Rosendorff told Christian Holmes that "if you are asking me to defend these values[,] then the answer is no."
Rosendorff added that "the most constructive thing at this point is to offer reliable and robust" lab tests, "not to spin," and that "100% honesty and transparency to the patient is essential."
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Christian Holmes sent the email string on to his sister, saying that he was "at a loss" as to how to deal with the recalcitrant lab director.
Elizabeth Holmes is charged with defrauding investors, doctors and patients about the viability of Theranos' blood-testing technology. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison and $3 million in fines.
Questioned by the defense, Rosendorff admitted that, in earlier civil proceedings, he did not identify pressure from the top to spin results as a factor in his decision to leave Theranos, even though he testified in this case that the pressure played a role.
He also agreed with defense counsel that under federal regulations, it was his responsibility as lab director to ensure that test procedures worked before they were used commercially, and that test results sent to patients were accurate.
But Rosendorff said that he "faced constraints and pushback from management" in endeavoring to fulfill his obligations.
In his final weeks as lab director, in the fall of 2014, Rosendorff said that the company was "getting a high frequency of doctor complaints" and "the number and severity of issues had reached a crescendo."
Because he felt "obligated from a moral and ethical perspective to alert the public" about Theranos, Rosendorff testified that after leaving the company he spoke with Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou.
Carreyrou wrote a series of articles and eventually a book on the failed blood-testing technology.
Cross-examination of Rosendorff will continue on Wednesday.