California biotech executive guilty of $77 million blood test scheme

A California biotech executive was found Thursday guilty of orchestrating a $77 million scheme involving false and fraudulent claims about Covid-19 and allergy testing, according to federal prosecutors.

Executive Mark Scena, 59, was president of Arrayit Corporation, a biomedical company that claims to have invented a technology that can test for any disease with a single drop of blood pricked on the tip of a finger. Arrayit’s website says its “microarray” technology can test for diseases and conditions such as ovarian cancer, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer and male infertility.

Sheena was convicted on a total of nine federal indictments, including three counts of health care, conspiracy in wire and healthcare fraud, and securities fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 20 years in prison for each count of securities fraud.

Since 2018, Shena has paid kickbacks and bribes to recruiters and doctors to conduct allergy tests for 120 allergens, including wasp stings, shrimp, peanuts, dairy and Bermuda grass, according to federal prosecutors. It says.

The U.S. Department of Justice later said it developed a “deceptive marketing scheme” that falsely advertised the accuracy of the test, when it was “not really a diagnostic test.”

Shena filed fraudulent claims with Medicare and private insurance for unnecessary allergy tests, according to the Department of Justice. was more expensive than any other laboratory in the United States. Some private insurance companies charged him more than $10,000 in one test.

As Arrayit’s allergy testing business collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic, the company turned to Covid-19 testing, claiming it used its technology to develop a blood-based test.

Arrayit falsely claimed that its Covid tests were more accurate than PCR tests, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration informed Schena that Arrayit’s tests weren’t accurate enough to get emergency use authorization. Mr. Scena hid his rejections from investors.

According to the Justice Department, Schena falsely told investors that he was the “father of microarray technology” and that he was a finalist for the Nobel Prize.

A company-registered phone number has been disconnected. Schena’s attorney, Todd A. Pickles, declined to comment on Friday.

Arrayit compared itself to Theranos, a failed blood test startup, on its Facebook page at least once, saying that its technology could produce a drop of blood “1/250,000 the volume of a Theranos nanotainer.” You write that you can use The Department of Justice’s first complaint of 2020.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, which once promised to revolutionize healthcare with a simple blood test, and Ramesh Balwani, the company’s former chief executive, are optimizing the blood test’s capabilities to appeal to investors. was accused of exaggerating and customers.

In January Holmes was convicted of four frauds, and in July Balwani was convicted of 12 frauds.

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