Former Theranos patient testifies that blood test at Walgreens came back with false positive for HIV
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos Inc., left, arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.
Davie Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Erin Tompkins, who got her blood drawn from a Theranos device at a Walgreens in Arizona, said the test misdiagnosed her as having an HIV antibody, sending her into a panic.
“I was quite emotional at the time,” Tompkins told jurors on Wednesday in the criminal trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.
Tompkins, a witness to the prosecution and the second patient to testify, said she first read about Theranos in Forbes. She later learned more about the blood-testing company on Facebook from a friend who was looking for affordable health-care options.
Holmes is facing 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in what federal prosecutors allege is a decade-long scheme to dupe investors and patients about her company’s blood-testing capabilities. Holmes has pleaded not guilty.
Tompkins said she was persuaded by Theranos’ low prices. She told jurors that she asked her doctor to order her a blood test in May 2015. She paid for the test out of pocket because she didn’t have insurance.
“When you decided to go to Theranos for blood testing were you counting on accurate blood test results?” John Bostic, an assistant U.S. attorney, asked of Tompkins.
“Absolutely,” Tompkins said.
“Between cost and accuracy which of those is more important to you?” Bostic asked.
“Well, I think accuracy is most important any time you’re having a medical procedure but cost was a very close second,” Tompkins replied.
Tompkins’ test indicated she had “abnormal results” and pointed to HIV antibodies. Tomkins testified that she had never been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS nor did she ever have any symptoms.
Shortly after getting the results, Tompkins said she called Theranos to speak to someone in the laboratory. Tompkins said she reached a customer service representative who told her she “couldn’t transfer me and that was about it.”
“At any time did you speak to a scientist or a medical professional at Theranos?” Bostic asked.
“No,” Tompkins said.
Three months after the test, Tompkins went to a different clinic to get screened again for HIV. The results came back negative. She was tested again for HIV in August 2021, and received another negative result.
Tompkins’ testimony continues on Thursday.