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Biotech Medicine

Affordable Blood Work In Four Hours Coming To Pharmacies 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-you-need-to-know-if-you-have-ebola-before-dinner dept.
kkleiner writes "With the cost of healthcare services increasing, it's welcome news that a recent deal between Walgreens and Theranos will bring rapid, accurate, low-cost blood testing to the local pharmacy. A pinprick of blood from a finger is enough to run any number of a la carte diagnostic tests with results in four hours or less. The automation of blood testing in one convenient machine may mean that the demand for clinical technicians may decline, but the benefits of making blood analysis more accessible to everyone is enormous."
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Affordable Blood Work In Four Hours Coming To Pharmacies

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  • by paiute (550198)

    A pinprick of blood from a finger

    Why does the blood always have to come from a finger? That's where all the nerves are. Why can't you get the drop of blood from your elbow or some other place?

    • Those of us that work for a living have callouses that make it pretty much not hurt at all.

    • Lots of capilaries just beneath the surface, rapid healing, no scar.

    • A pinprick of blood from a finger

      Why does the blood always have to come from a finger? That's where all the nerves are. Why can't you get the drop of blood from your elbow or some other place?

      I had to stick myself in high school as part of a biology experiment to determine my blood type. Couldn't do my finger. Ended up stabbing myself in the lower leg.

      It hurt a lot less, but unfortunately, there's not as much blood on tap there.

  • by Ronin Developer (67677) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @04:58PM (#45467179)

    that the winner of the international science fair came up with...detected Lung, Pancreatic and one other type of cancer using a carbon nanotube and a handful of parts he picked up at Home Depot. Cost of the test? About $0.04 and highly accurate.

    What will it cost after it's commercialized? We'll see.

    • by barlevg (2111272) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @05:04PM (#45467225)
      Keep in mind, the cost of the pharmaceutical company's study used to verify the accuracy of the test and gain FDA approval likely pushes the cost-per-test up quite a bit.
      • by Defenestrar (1773808) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @05:20PM (#45467377)

        Keep in mind, the cost of the pharmaceutical company's studys used to verify the accuracy of the test and gain FDA approval likely pushes the cost-per-test up quite a bit.

        FTFY. Preclinical, phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 at a minimum

      • by game kid (805301)

        The ads for the test, to be aired at primetime and targeted at people who won't even have a choice in the matter (let alone the knowledge to judge whether this is "right for you"), will push the costs up further.

      • The cost-per-test, or marginal cost, is impacted neither by the pharmaceutical company's study used to verify the accuracy of the test nor the FDA approval.
        These costs are fixed costs, not marginal costs. That is, these costs do not change dependent on the number of test kits produced.
        So technically, no, they don't push the cost-per-test up quite a bit. The company's desire to turn a profit is what pushes up the cost-per-test.
      • You mean the study that's funded almost entirely with Federal grants? :-p

      • by asmkm22 (1902712)

        It won't push the costs up to nearly what they'll charge. Health care should not be a for-profit industry.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        And until this test is proven, it's no different than any one else's home remedy or folk wisdom. It'll be another of those "amazing breakthroughs that the government supported medical industrial complex is suppressing!", like Laetrile.

    • Anyone seen a decent accuracy study for that test? Even if it detects cancer 100% of the time, that is useless if the FA rate is 99%.

  • If you need a blood test the doctor/hospital will likely take the blood perform test and charge accordingly leaving the patient out of the loop entirely. If this test does actually force a lower reimbursement rate, they will specify checking for conditions not covered by the test so a more expensive one has to be done

    • If your doctor has requested you take a blood test, you can have that blood test done at any facility of your choice. I have personally transferred my doctor's blood tests to other facilities.

  • by lionchild (581331) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @05:06PM (#45467247) Journal

    I think I'd like to see this in my doctors office. They could employ someone to take care of that, make blood work more quick for diagnostics, and patients wouldn't have to go to yet somewhere else for blood work, then everyone waits for results. I could be wrong, but it feels like this is something a doctors office might be more well invested in for the patient. And if the cost is low enough, then perhaps it's a service they add on regularly so as to insure there's not something cropping up that goes undiagnosed between visits...since we all know that particularly men don't want to go to the doctor unless something is really wrong.

    But, it goes back to doctors being more invested in patients and their positive health and less about getting as many people through the door as possible in a day. However, that's probably a whole different discussion.

  • Someone asked, here's the answer: a whole lot better than the labwork you get now. [wsj.com] Example: HDL tests are allowed to have a 30% margin of error. Theranos' tests are accurate to within 10%.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      That chart is pretty meaningless. suppose you have high normal Free triiodothyronine but also low normal Estradiol what does that indicate? How are they impacted my medicine? what if something moves from low normal to high normal?
      I've seen to many 'self diagnosis' go bad becasue people don't understand the other effects.

      It's not just a check list of normals.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        I reread that and it sounded like I was implying I am a Medical Doctor. I am not. I used to run some very in depth analysis with multi zone/state/country hospitals.

    • No, accuracy and margin of error are different concepts.

      First of all Theranos is FOS. All the stuff she is touting to do is available on the open market. We will see about their prices. Their 'accuracy' is test-to-test repeatability - NOT confirmation with a reference sample. You can be very accurate and very wrong. Theranos is probably not either, and for clinical laboratory work you don't need to be terribly precise. But all of their breathless hype is total BS.

      Getting lab work a couple hours (even

  • As someone who frequently faints or comes extremely close while having blood drawn, I am extremely excited about this tech. I hate getting blood drawn so much that I have a tendency to avoid scheduling routine physicals, which I know is not smart since yearly physicals are so crucial to spotting trouble before things get too bad. I don't just hate passing out (or nearly), but I hate needles in general, so having that needle stuck in my arm for the duration of the draw (or the frequent misses and retries)
    • I'm in a similar boat. I thought it was seeing the flood of blood that is taken for routine bloodwork that made me white out, but getting a vaccine booster shot resulted in similar symptoms. Over the years, I found needlework more bearable if I:
      a) look away. seriously.
      b) think about something else. other body parts, other things entirely. and think hard!
      c) inform the technician ahead of time, and lay down for the duration of the needling. most techs are very accomodating.

      At the doctor's I always bring
      • by geekoid (135745)

        how much blood do they take, I would think 4-6 vials.

        " excessive butter consumption is fucking up my "
        It is.
        That will be 50 bucks please.

        If if your ratio is normal, it's still impacting it.

  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday November 19, 2013 @05:30PM (#45467467) Homepage

    So - don't forget to check the box at the bottom of the form saying that you agree to their privacy policy. (whereby, your blood will give them a DNA sequence that they can sell as marketing information - which funds the tests. And the CEO's retirement plan).

    • by geekoid (135745)

      you think selling it a market material change there bottom line enough to impact a CEOs bonus? you're high.
      It's used in medical research, and is a good thing.

    • And your paranoia makes this worse than any of the current situation, how?
  • I used to look after the local Lab Management System for a medical lab here in New Zealand.

    Here blood tests are pretty much free when ordered by a doctor - IIRC the ministry of health gives the tester around $5 for the simple tests... if you walked off the street they might charge you $US15 for doing the paperwork.

    The results were ready in a few hours, and then an EDI-style clearing house is used to deliver the results back into the doctor's patient management system, so a four hour turn-around was not unhe

    • by jtara (133429)

      There are two prices: there is a "retail" price that is tremendously inflated. And there is a "negotiated" price that is paid by insurers. The "retail" is absolutely unaffordable.

      As an example, my annual tests ordered by my physician last year were $700 "retail".

      The negotiated Blue Cross rate was $130. I paid a co-pay of something like $40. So, the lab somehow cheerfully forgoes $570 revenue, and collects $40 from me and $90 from Blue Cross.

      Poor people have to pay $700. Or go through horrible paperwork and

      • I don't know if I should laugh or cry at that. What stops somebody setting up a lab - you could pay a lab tech's salary twice over to just do one manual test a day.

        Is there some sort of cartel that doesn't supply equipment / reagents / consumables to labs that don't toe the line?

        Or are the labs being screwed by their suppliers?

        • by asmkm22 (1902712)

          Welcome to America. Nearly half our country is willing to salt the fields just to keep the other half from eating.

          • So this is an attempt to solve what is not a technology problem but a political one?

              I can't see that this will ever be able to make blood tests affordable to you - it will be used by the existing providers to increase profit margins while doing less work.

        • Typically the cartel is the state government which won't allow new providers to open in an area without an elaborate dance to 'prove need' to some committee.
      • Nope. You can almost always obtain the lowest prices by paying cash. While I have health insurance I almost always pay cash in order to save money. A recent blood test would have cost me about $80 if I used my health insurance. Instead I obtained the blood test for $20 by paying cash.

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