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Biotech Businesses

Walgreens Cuts Ties With Blood-Test Startup Theranos (theverge.com) 65

An anonymous reader writes: Walgreens has announced that it's terminating its partnership with blood-testing startup Theranos. All 40 of the "Theranos Wellness Centers" in Walgreen's Arizona drugstores will be shut down immediately, closing what has been a primary link between Theranos and would-be consumers, and further wounding the troubled startup's revenue. "In light of the voiding of a number of test results, and as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has rejected Theranos' plan of correction and considers sanctions, we have carefully considered our relationship with Theranos and believe it is in our customers' best interests to terminate our partnership," said Walgreens senior vice president Brad Fluegel in a press statement.
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Walgreens Cuts Ties With Blood-Test Startup Theranos

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  • Homeopathic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 13, 2016 @10:44AM (#52306697)

    What about all of the homeopathic products still sold at Walgreens stores?

    • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @10:46AM (#52306717)

      I buy all mine from the banner ads I see on Slashdot.

      By the way, do you know how acidic your body is?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My blood dissolves plastic and metal. And I can extend my jaw two feet from my head. Why do you ask?

      • Blood pH varies between 7.25 and 7.45 or so, therefore your body is slightly alkaline.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Homeopathic products -> "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. " (But you can totally trust us!)


      Theranos -> "Our technology works with just a single pinprick!" (because technical magic!) "We're FDA approved" (For preliminary results, but we'll do everything we can to conflate it with blanket approval. ... I don't trust either one.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      In their defense, if you have "homeopathic" on the label, then Walgreen's is selling a correctly labelled product.

      Which is to say "homeopathic" == "placebo".

      The problem with Theranos is that their product was labelled "accurate medical testing" explicitly. And it's not. At least people who see "homeopathic" on a box have not been deceived as to their purchase. They're just generally deluded, it's not Walgreen's that is lying to them.

      • At least people who see "homeopathic" on a box have not been deceived as to their purchase. They're just generally deluded, it's not Walgreen's that is lying to them.

        Are they deluded, or diluted? Thanks, I'll be here all week!

    • You can get homeopathic medicine a lot cheaper without losing any effectiveness in the bottled water section.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @10:44AM (#52306699) Homepage

    Maybe they need a transfusion.

  • In Soviet Russia, Ties Cut You!

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @10:47AM (#52306721) Journal

    Heard this wonderful news on NPR this morning. The company has been a sham since the beginning. You name it, they lied about it.

    To date Theranos has never let the government or anyone from the outside reproduce the results they claim they get with their system. They have delayed, delayed and delayed.

    Now, finally, the fraud of Elizabeth Holmes will be revealed. She can deny all she likes but she has known about this from the beginning.

    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @11:07AM (#52306899)

      Somebody needs to examine how their devices got FDA certs.

      There was certainly some corruption involved.

      • by Gilgaron ( 575091 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @11:53AM (#52307441)
        You don't get audited immediately... if the submission looked good then it'd probably go through and most medical products take long enough to ramp up that the audit will still take place before a large rollout.
      • by jdunn14 ( 455930 )

        I've written code for an FDA approved class 2 device. In this case class 2 means roughly that the device is used for making medical decisions but not in direct contact w the patient. A failure could mislead a physician causing serious harm, but the device can't harm the patient directly. The code actually was the product since the approved "device" was a software program. We had to submit documentation that showed the device was safe when used by the targeted user, in our case a trained physician. We a

        • This was a novel device. Not just another blood sugar meter.

          A wildly inaccurate blood test is dangerous. They would have had to assert fictitious error levels and should have had to reference basic research.

          How can someone assert a test is accurate without controlled testing? Even if the FDA didn't do the tests directly, they should have seen the research.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Has anyone actually defined how/to what extent this is a sham though? It would seem to be a pretty easy supposition to test, get a selection of a few dozen people (preferably with some with and some without the tested conditions), send several sets of blood samples out, one to Theranos and couple to a few standard testing firms. After you get the results back chart the differences. The only thing I've heard is they're "not approved", "inaccurate", but no hard numbers. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they a

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Theranos' results are wildly inaccurate [wsj.com]. They also refused to let the FDA or anyone else see the results of their own tests.

      • by NotAPK ( 4529127 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @02:28PM (#52308949)

        I'm no expert, but my understanding is that the device fails to work on two levels.

        1) The device samples a tiny drop of blood from the periphery of the body. Regardless of the sensitivity of the analyzing device, any blood sample taken in this way (big or small) will not represent the composition of the blood in the body. It may work for some factors (everyone has seen a diabetic test their finger, but even that test is only "close enough" for them to self medicate with it) but not for all, including some significant ones. Theranos claimed they could "correct" for this. It was an extraordinary claim that required extraordinary evidence that it would work. No such evidence has been presented.

        2) The device works with a tiny drop of blood. Performing the analysis with such a small sample is problematic. Sure, it will work for some factors, since we have extremely sensitive tests for them, or they are abundant in the sample and easily detected. However, there are other factors that are difficult to detect, even with the largest and most sophisticated machines on the planet sampling an entire vial of blood. It was an extraordinary claim that their testing machine could sample a tiny drop of blood and perform reliable tests. No extraordinary evidence for this claim has ever been presented.

        So that's my summary, feel free to read online for a while if you want to find some citations, but it's all been reported pretty well here on Slashdot and in the online media.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      It just seems so odd that she'd think she could get away with such a huge scam from the very beginning. Medical testing is serious business.

      My guess is that she was/is delusional about her product and it just snowballed from there. As much as this is going to be a fiasco, I don't think it started as a scam originally.

      Of course, no matter how it started, it's a huge scam now, and I think their purchase of normal lab equipment for their labs was after their "oh shit" moment when they realized that their stu

      • I'm guessing the company started with good intentions. However no amount of ambition and optimism can replace actual technological progress. Their continued secrecy and refusal to submit to independent scientific scrutiny was probably a gambit to buy themselves more time to find a way to get the technology to work. I think as pressure grew to deliver a working product is probably when the line between optimism and misrepresentation (and potential fraud) started to blur. It will be interesting to see how thi
    • Now, finally, the fraud of Elizabeth Holmes will be revealed. She can deny all she likes but she has known about this from the beginning.

      Someone recently called her "P.T. Barnum in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck," but that comparison is unfair to Barnum. Barnum promoted a product which is legitimately intangible: entertainment. Holmes is also promoting something intangible, but which actually needs to exist and work to have value: blood tests.

  • If they wanted to lie and perpetrate a fraud on the American people; instead of business, they should have gone into politics where that kind of behavior is rewarded instead of punished.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ha Ha!

    SO enjoyable to see this hipster girl flame out.

  • E-meters (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday June 13, 2016 @11:16AM (#52307011) Homepage Journal
    Will Walgreens at least keep stocking e-Meters? I cannot remain Clear without one.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein