Walgreens’ relationship with Theranos is on the rocks.
On Thursday, the health retailer—and Theranos’ biggest client—announced that it had
stopped sending blood tests to Theranos’ lab in Newark, California.
The announcement came days after Theranos received a letter from the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services saying it had found “deficient practices” that “pose immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.”
Theranos has until Feb. 4 to correct the issues, or it could no longer be certified to perform tests under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment. The
company also faces up to $10,000 in fines each day it fails to correct the deficiencies.
Along with suspending the use of Theranos’ California lab, Walgreens closed its Wellness Center in Palo Alto, California, and said that it was restricting
testing for samples collected in Arizona Wellness Centers:
Walgreens informed Theranos that tests collected at 40 Theranos Wellness Centers located at stores in Arizona must be sent only to Theranos’ certified lab
in the Phoenix area or to an accredited third-party lab for analysis. No patient samples will be sent to the Newark lab until all issues raised by CMS have
been fully resolved.
Walgreens launched a task force to investigate the claims and is in talks with the company to discuss next steps, Techcrunch reported. If Theranos
executives have a sense of foreboding, there’s a reason: The Wall Street Journal reported that Walgreens
is considering a bigger pullback as Theranos’ troubles continue.
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reported that Walgreens had previously supported Theranos, but an investigation last fall showed problems with Theranos’ technology:
Walgreens was an early champion for Theranos, offering needle-free blood tests to customers. Back when
Walgreens began to offer these tests, Theranos was a Silicon Valley darling, hyped for its innovative methods. The hype bubble burst in October after aWall Street Journal investigation highlighted major problems with the company’s technology
A Theranos representative told The Verge that the CMS findings affect only its California lab and that its Arizona lab—which handles roughly 95 percent of Wellness Center lab tests—would
continue to serve Walgreens in the state:
We are open for business, confident in our technologies, and unwavering in our commitment to provide Arizonans with the care and service they deserve.
How do you think Theranos is responding to this crisis, PR Daily readers? What could it be doing to assure its clients and the public that it’s
correcting its problems?