This is the story of a flawed idea that just kept going until a man committed suicide, a company imploded, and an entire industry was left reeling.
In 2014, Elizabeth Holmes was the young, blond, fearless CEO of a hot Silicon Valley startup, a biotech firm she had founded in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford at 19. The company, Theranos, was pioneering a new kind of blood testing.
Theranos's claim to fame was that with just a few drops of blood taken from a finger prick — instead of several vials drawn from a big, scary needle — its proprietary lab device, the Edison, could run a battery of blood tests at a fraction of the going rate and return results directly to the consumer within hours instead of days.
After showing your insurance card, doctor's note, and photo ID, your sample could be drawn and sent to Theranos's lab and be tested for everything from cholesterol ($2.96), to cocaine ($9.90), to HIV ($16.39), according to an archived copy of its blood testing menu.
Never mind that these prices were up to 90 percent lower than the rates set by Medicare — just publicly publishing its prices was a revolutionary act inside America's byzantine healthcare system.
But for many, Theranos already represented a promise that disease could be caught sooner and get consumers more involved with their healthcare.
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Two years ago, Holmes's company had a $9 billion valuation and she was gracing the cover of Fortune and garnering write-ups in Wired. She was Silicon Valley's "It" girl, drawing comparisons with Steve Jobs from both the secretive and driven way she ran her company to her habit of wearing the same black turtleneck outfit every day.
She struck a deal with Walgreens, which added branded Theranos walk-up counters to 41 of its pharmacies for patients to have their blood drawn, with ambitions for thousands more across the nation. By age 31, she was on the Forbes' billionaires list.
But with the heightened exposure came increased scrutiny.
"They were the greatest new story in Silicon Valley and health and saving the world," Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of disease prevention at Stanford told NBC News. "And I just said, 'Where is the evidence?'"
After he published a skeptical column in February last year, he said he got "a lot of pushback" from the company.
"Less than two years later, we can see the whole thing has collapsed."