Monday, December 29, 2014

Ken Auletta interviewed about Theranos (December, 2014)

NBC (December, 2014)

Interview with Ken Auletta




Ken Auletta:

Walgreens is signed up, 41 stores, soon most of 8000 stores.  Hospital - Cleveland Clinic is soon to sign up.  So it’s a real threat to the needle testing blood tests.  But there are questions about it.  The young dropout from Stanford, Elizabeth Holmes, who started it, the company’s worth $9B, she owns half of it, she’s a missionary.  She knows her medicine.  High powered board – henry Kissinger.  So it’s a real threat.

Q:
You don’t believe what her rivals say?

KA:
She’s the real deal.  It’s 11 year old company, they act like their first year, they shouldn’t.  Too secretive.

Q:
Competitors say you can’t properly test with that little blood.

KA:
The additional argument, the fingerprick damages tissue, so it corrupts the test.  That has to be tested, is that true.  But the basic fact: Between 30-60%, she says 60%, Quest says 30%, of patients told to get a test, don’t take it.  A major reason: Fear of needles.  And inconvenience, expensive, work hours.  But that’s a big number.  And if it’s largely fear of needles, her lack of a needle tests could get many more people tested.

SPEAKER:
This isn’t just a black box, all secrets, we need some knowledge of the techniques.  Take the results, and compare what it found to a large standard teset.  See if it matches up, exactly?  What is different about her technique?  What do they do?

KA:
That’s interesting question.  I asked her, I asked several times, I’ve seen “machinery” but I can’t explain chemistry.   I asked her, and she lapses into secrecy. 

SPEAKER:
IT could be a black box, but you could give some general description, and show data.  Is it 99% the same?

KA:
She claims they do…

SPEAKER:
Claims!?

KA:
The College of American Pathologists does audits three times a year and turns it over to her.  They don’t release it.

Q: 
You had your blood taken?

KA:
You go to Walgreens, doctors’ note, ID, insurance card.  They warm your hand, do a finger prick, you hardly feel it.  Two drops of blood, a “Nanocontainer” and refrigerated and picked up 3 times a day.  Literally two drops of blood.



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