Is the Theranos Case an Example of Stretching the Truth or Just Lazy Reporting?

Is the Theranos Case an Example of Stretching the Truth or Just Lazy Reporting?

Theranos, a medical start-up based in Silicon Valley and known for its blood tests that allegedly only need a finger-prick’s worth of blood, has recently been drawn into a complicated case with the Wall Street Journal.

The debate stems from how exactly Theranos administers a blood test. According to Fortune Magazine, the tests do not require a syringe, relying instead on a simple finger prick. Robert Parloff, the senior editor and writer of the article in question, later described this as a “whopping false statement.” In a response to the editorial staff, Theranos has since clarified how their tech works.

Theranos Administers Hundreds of Blood Tests

Theranos has more 200 different blood tests. Some, but not all, are run using the finger-prick method, and their other methods of venous draws only require a small amount of blood drawn. This is in contrast to standard tests that usually (depending on the test) require at least four vials of blood.

Brooke Buchanan, Theranos’ vice president of communications, described Parloff’s write up as both “inaccurate and — ironically — misleading,” in a letter to the editor in Fortune. The main point of contention here is Parloff’s use of the word “misled.” In her letter, Buchanan states that Theranos had all its information publically available on its website. Their methods are not hidden or lied about, but it does call on someone to do some basic research to find it. One would think that a senior editor would be able to consult a website.

Response to what Theranos Calls “Misleading” Claims

In a response, Parloff admitted at least to a partial responsibility: “As much as I’d like to say that Holmes lied to me, I don’t think she did… I was also culpable, in that I failed to probe certain exasperatingly opaque answers that I repeatedly received.” He also goes into greater detail about his interview with CEO and founder, Elizabeth Holmes, highlighting several possible red flags that he perhaps should have investigated further.

He points out that an FDA inspection in September 2015 found that Theranos’ blood collector, the nanotainer, was declared an “uncleared” medical device.

Theranos then immediately discontinued using its own methods for all but one test, which had been given full FDA approval. Theranos did not see fit to mention in any of its media or update its website about any of this, despite what Buchanan says in the letter.

While Theranos certainly has a combative relationship with the media, it has undeniably pushed the boundaries of medical science. Although founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes may have been able to set up anywhere, she chose Palo Alto because, when it comes to tech, Palo Alto is where the magic happens. Stanford University offers some of the best graduates available today, which drives the technology industry to ever greater heights.

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