Walgreens Closes Theranos Testing Centers In Arizona, Won’t Take Them Nationwide

Image courtesy of afagen

When Walgreens and blood-testing startup Theranos partnered up in 2013, it seemed like a great idea for both companies and for patients. Inexpensive lab tests could be available right in neighborhood drugstores. Only the problem was that Theranos insisted on secrecy because of its new technology, and Walgreens wasn’t able to seriously investigate the tests or equipment. Now Walgreens has ended its partnership with Theranos.

Drugstore-based lab testing wasn’t a new idea, and may be common in a few years with other labs and pharmacy chains even after this partnership has ended. Industry giant LabCorp is interested in expanding its business, and clinics in drugstores would be a logical next step.

Theranos and Walgreens weren’t the first to put blood tests in stores, but they signed a nationwide deal and put 40 clinics in drugstores in Arizona. The low cost and tiny amount of blood needed for Theranos tests made the company a good choice to put in retail stores, but such a partnership presumes that the tests actually work.

Reporting by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the company was performing lab tests on equipment from outside companies instead of its proprietary machines, and that quality control testing back in 2014 showed that the company’s equipment wasn’t operating within its own required accuracy standards.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a report earlier this year that detailed problems with the company’s lab facility, and proposed sanctions that would be disastrous, including keeping Theranos from receiving payment from Medicare for any tests that it performs.

Other possible sanctions include not being allowed to perform lab tests for humans, and CEO Elizabeth Holmes being banned from the industry for two years. Walgreens ended their relationship with the startup before the government announces any of these sanctions.

Attempting to regain good standing with CMS, the company issued revised results for tests dating back two years that were performed on its own equipment and on testing equipment from other companies.

While Theranos still has its own collection facilities in California and in Arizona, the end of its relationship with Walgreens means that the company has lost its main source of customers and revenue.

Walgreen Terminates Partnership With Blood-Testing Firm Theranos [Wall Street Journal]