Friday, March 15, 2019

Very Very Very Brief Blog: Theranos HBO Documentary Gets Theatrical Run

Very very brief blog...This week, there is a Theranos documentary on ABC and another on HBO.  Here.

The HBO documentary is also getting a theatrical run in Los Angeles.   Typically, a week or two in theaters is the minimum for potential nomination for Academy Awards.

For a discussion in LA Times, here.

HBO Also Books New York Run

INVENTOR opens in New York as well, on Friday March 22 at Cinema Village.

Theranos's Sales Claims vs Public Medicare Data

According to the CMS provider database, Theranos' NPI was 1548546401, and 2014 allowed charges were $17,658.   2015 was $131,540 and 2016 was $0.   (The October 2015 WSj article led pretty quickly to cancelling their CLIA licence.) 

One of the documentaries - either the ABC one or the HBO one - comments that in 2014 or 2015 Theranos' asserted its revenue was "$1 billion."  That total would be very unlikely, if your public Medicare lab revenue was $10,000-$100,000.  And finding your public Medicare revenue doesn't take a Pulitzer level journalist or the world's smartest investor.   Would have been a fine moment if Holmes on stage had been asked how her all-payer lab revenue could be "$1B" if her CMS revenue was $10,000.  See CMS files in Excel, here.

Ironically, the fourth-most common lab payment from CMS to Theranos was "Insertion of needle into vein."  The most common test was chem panel 80053, CBC 85025, and basic lipids 80061, followed by TSH 84443.

Although CMS paid for about 14,000 total tests, none were the herpes test that was the only FDA cleared test on the Edison.

Neither Holmes nor Balwani appeared to be excluded from Medicare as of 3/2019 (here).

THE INVENTOR had a favorable, front-page review on the Los Angeles Times entertainment section for  Friday March 15.    "A Fraudulent Tech Wizard's Fall."  That said, it's playing in one fifty-seat fourplex, and I saw in an audience of 8.

Three Suprisingly Independent Problems at Theranos

What I extracted from the documentaries was that there were three independent problems at Theranos.  (1) The Edison device didn't work.   (2) Separate from that, when they started running an industry platform based CLIA lab for clin chem, they couldn't do it right.   (3) Separate from that, they allegedly claimed to investors their revenue was very high - hundreds of millions or a billion, if I remember correctly from the documentaries and SEC and investor lawsuit news stories - when it wasn't.  Even without the first two problems, that independent third problem would have caught up with them very badly as soon as they required funding with more closely audited financials or an IPO with back-year financials.