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Proove Biosciences, a formerly high-flying genetic testing firm whose science and business practices have been challenged by experts and former employees, has been placed into court-ordered receivership for “restructuring and asset sale,” according to the company’s founder and former CEO.

Proove’s founder, Brian Meshkin, said in an interview on Thursday that he no longer works at Proove, which rang up $28 million in revenue last year. Meshkin blamed the company’s fall on investigative articles published by STAT last December and February. Those articles quoted experts who expressed deep doubts about the company’s scientific claims that it could predict a patient’s likelihood of becoming addicted to opioids. “Hogwash” was the assessment of Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek, a leading researcher on genetic links to addiction at Rockefeller University.

STAT’s investigations also described business practices — including coercing patients to take unnecessary genetic tests — that former Proove employees and outside experts described as unethical and possibly illegal.


In June, agents from the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services agents raided Proove’s offices in Irvine, Calif., to collect truckloads of documents as part of a criminal investigation. According to legal experts, Proove and many of its affiliated doctors operated in ways that could violate federal and state anti-kickback laws, which are meant to prevent unneeded testing. FBI spokeswoman Davene Butler declined to comment Thursday about the ongoing case.

Meshkin said “erroneous and damaging” reports about Proove were based on “false allegations” from disgruntled employees. He blamed the federal actions on STAT’s reports, which quoted many who worked with Proove as doctors or employees, including two who had been approached by federal investigators. And he expressed confidence that Proove’s underlying vision would endure.


“In some form or fashion, [Proove’s] technology will continue to get out there, and will continue to save lives,” Meshkin said.

Michael Thatcher of Atlanta-based GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group was appointed receiver Aug. 7, Meshkin said. Thatcher did not respond to requests for comment.

The restructuring was apparently ordered by high-profile Proove backer Mike Leavitt, who served both as governor of Utah and as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Leavitt previously sat on Proove’s board, although it’s not known if he still holds that position; board members are no longer listed on the company’s website. His investment firm, Leavitt Equity Partners, provided about $7 million to Proove, according to Meshkin.

As Proove’s main creditor, Meshkin said, Leavitt’s firm was behind the restructuring. Susan Winckler, a former FDA official who directs risk management at Leavitt’s consulting firm, Leavitt Partners, provided a brief statement via email. “Leavitt Equity Partners is not a shareholder of Proove. It is the holder of a secured debt owed by Proove,” she said.

“It sucked the life out of me, on an integrity level. It got more and more corrupt.”

Rhonda Frantz-Smith, former senior manager at Proove

Proove’s genetic tests were ordered by hundreds of doctors, many of whom were promised “research fees” in exchange for participating in the company’s clinical studies. Many doctors enrolled their patients in studies, but were never paid.

Former employees have told STAT that Proove representatives working in private doctors’ offices coerced patients to take unneeded tests for sensitivity to opioids or opioid abuse in an effort to boost company revenues. The former employees also said test results were routinely falsified to make it appear that patients benefited from the testing.

Rhonda Frantz-Smith, a former senior Proove manager who left the company in 2016, oversaw relationships with doctor offices and supervised the research assistants who worked directly with physicians.

“I went into Proove feeling really good about who I was and what I was doing with a test that could change people’s lives,” she said in an interview Thursday. “I felt almost heroic” about promoting a tool that could help patients deal with terrible pain, she said.

But gradually, Meshkin pushed to “test every patient,” regardless of need, Frantz-Smith said. She also began to doubt the validity of Proove tests, which provided contradictory results, and worried about possible falsification of data, as well as billing methods that seemed misleading.

“It sucked the life out of me, on an integrity level,” she said. “It got more and more corrupt.”

In the interview on Thursday, Meshkin cited several recently published papers that appeared in peer-reviewed journals as support for the validity of Proove’s testing and research — which he called an important tool to combat the opioid abuse crisis.

“We are the only ones who have any clinically proven solution to not only reduce pain,” he said, “but also with a high level of accuracy identify people who were at risk for opioid abuse.”

But the data those papers were based on are suspect, several former employees previously said. The DNA tests, conducted from cells obtained via cheek swabs, were unreliable and ignored by many doctors, both doctors and employees said. The tests were previously disavowed by Dr. Eric Fung, Proove’s former chief scientific officer, and Dr. Daniel A. Schwarz, Proove’s former research and development director.

  • Brian meshkin aka Andrew Keeler the independent journalist. Meshkin with a bachelor’s degree in politics comes around and solves the incredibly complex problem of opioid addiction with his proprietary genetics tests. Now, that is some story.

    Meshkin is nothing but a con man who will never apologize or change his ways. He is a self righteous psychopath. He is planning to start a new company he calls bennufit. I hope the public is able to stop this new scam and he never gets reimbursed for those fake tests.

  • I was subjected to this harvesting method of DNA by a lab employee, not the doctor’s employee. I went in to see a Podiatrist for orthotics and believed allowing this test had something to do with my feet. Ridiculous, and the reviews online of the doctor’s office doing so are blistering. I have tried to rescind my tests and the subsequent charges after reading the disclaimer form.

  • Proove was a scam from the beginning. It was an elaborate scam but a scam nonetheless. Meshkin went online to read about a few genes, put several of them together in a sham algorithm and submitted a few abstracts which are not peer reviewed. Bam!, he’s the CEO of biotechnology company and he starts billing the government and unsuspecting private insurance companies for eight years.

    These tests are completely fake and Brian knows it. He hired mostly incompetent people everywhere. Mistakes were rampant but he never cared. Perhaps because he was just as incompetent as the people he hired or too greedy to care. The money was so easy.

    The entire enterprise was no different from fictitious hospitals unscrupulous people open which are constantly shut down by the FBI and OIG . These scammers usually purchase Medicare numbers on the streets and start billing the government for services never rendered. The so-called peer reviewed articles Meshkin touts in the final days of Proove were published by unscrupulous online predatory journals based in India that demand thousands of dollars to publish scientific research.

    The brief success got into Meshkin’s head which is unsurprising for someone who has failed at everything in his life. He started talking down and deceiving people, screaming and shouting and believing in his own hype. But of course, things always correct themselves.

    I hope he is enjoying himself in his mansion because most certainly, his future belongs in federal prison

    • Meshkin actually started his scam with Salugen, his previous company. Unfortunately, weight loss using genetics didnt work out, so he tried his luck with opioids and it kicked off perhaps to his surprise. He has no background on genetics or medicine but he talks and acts like an expert: the behavior of a typical charlatan.

      It’s a monumental shame it took so long to shut him down.

  • Brian Meshkin can be best described as an Elon Musk wannabe that has no talent and a ruthless criminal that has no conscience. Meshkin has no loyalty to anyone in his life. His only loyalty is to money.

  • Brian Meshkin signs agreements and makes promises which he never honors. From the outset, his intention his simply to use people and break the agreement or lie that he never made the promise. This man is a dangerous criminal and thief. He lies and takes advantage of people for a living.

  • I strongly agree with you. We have to fight against any medical use of any
    potentionaly addictive medicine. There is no absolutely exact test possible
    to predict at present time induction of addiction so the future is far from our
    honest answer. One victim of this now thert larger killer due to a Rx would be a tragedy.

  • Brian Meshkin is a con man and a dangerous thief. The articles he cites as peer reviewed are suspect. As a matter of fact, omics, one of the publishers of the journal Proove submitted thier so-called research paper to, is under federal investigation for fraud. Dove press is also a suspicious publisher.

    I hope this is not the end of Proove story and Mr Meshkin faces the full weight of the law for his scams.

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