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Theranos To Shut Down Its Blood-Testing Facilities, Shrink Workforce By 40% (wsj.com) 66

tripleevenfall quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Inc. said it will shut down its blood-testing facilities and shrink its workforce by more than 40% (Warning: may be paywalled; alternate source). The company said it had 790 full-time employees as of August 1. The moves mark a dramatic retreat by the Palo Alto, Calif., company and founder Elizabeth Holmes from their core strategy of offering a long menu of low-price blood tests directly to consumers. Those ambitions already were endangered by crippling regulatory sanctions that followed revelations by The Wall Street Journal of shortcomings in Theranos's technology and operations. Theranos later voided all results from its proprietary device for 2014 and 2015, though the company said it wasn't aware of any patient harm resulting form its tests. Ms. Holmes said in a statement: "We will return our undivided attention to our miniLab platform. Our ultimate goal is to commercialize miniaturized, automated laboratories capable of small-volume sample testing, with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations, including oncology, pediatrics, and intensive care."
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Theranos To Shut Down Its Blood-Testing Facilities, Shrink Workforce By 40%

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  • Heh heh heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @11:39PM (#53022325)

    with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations

    With an emphasis on easy to scam patient populations?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @11:43PM (#53022333)
    Ms. Holmes said in a statement: "We will return our undivided attention to our miniLab platform. Our ultimate goal is to commercialize miniaturized, automated laboratories capable of small-volume sample testing, with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations, including oncology, pediatrics, and intensive care."

    What the fuck is Holmes still CEO? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/... [zerohedge.com] http://www.vanityfair.com/news... [vanityfair.com]

    What the fuck is wrong with investors? Well like you and me we have no say what we "invest" in. Instead banks and insurance fund managers decide for us. It's not their money. They don't care. You probably have some of your savings indirectly invested in Teranos and don't even know it, and even if you do too much work to withdraw it and transfer it to an equally incompetent fund [ft.com] across the street. So this shit keeps happening.
    • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @03:49AM (#53022935)

      More than that, how is she not in jail for criminal negligence?

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Spy Handler ( 822350 )

        More than that, how is she not in jail for criminal negligence?

        Holmes donated to and was a fundraiser for .... you guessed it .... Hillary Rodham Clinton. Who also is not in jail for criminal negligence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because capitalism rewards people who want to make money. Honesty is a tool, not a goal, and sometimes it's not the right tool for the job.

      • Probably because she hasn't been charged with anything criminal.

        Getting your lab certification pulled isn't a crime, suckering dumb VC's out of money because they can't read isn't, nor is not putting your stuff in peer reviewed journals.

    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      Why the fuck is Holmes still CEO? What the fuck is wrong with investors?

      There's a pretty simple answer to that. Like Brin and Page at Google, or Zuckerberg at Facebook, she owns all the voting shares.

      Not all shares in a public or even private company are created equal. You can create different classes of shares where you still own a piece of the company, but voting rights are different. I could start a company and create 100 shares that get one vote each and sell those, but retain 10 shares of a special class that get to cast 100 votes each, thereby retaining control of the com

  • by Razed By TV ( 730353 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2016 @11:49PM (#53022351)

    Theranos later voided all results from its proprietary device for 2014 and 2015, though the company said it wasn't aware of any patient harm resulting form its tests.

    They're just about inviting lawsuits with that gem. I hadn't thought about the patient harm aspect until I read that quote, only the fraud aspect. Once people realize that their misdiagnosis stemming from a false test result is what landed them in the hospital or prevented treatment of a disease, Theranos won't even need a clean up crew.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There is more than that: They were also used for DNA evidence. I'm sure lawyers could drum up the wasted time caused by incorrect facts being provided as true facts would constitute harm - it certainly is a loss for the client. Have all clients been refunded? I believe otherwise there would be monetary harm. How about their loss of time - both for the original diagnosis, and further diagnosis's, and court costs and time to be compensated? Time is money, after all...

    • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @12:13AM (#53022429) Journal
      All the checks I have ever received from class action lawsuits, by not opting "out", resulted in checks for less than a dollar. (or a coupon or something of similar trivial worth...)

      And, I rarely "opt in" to an invitation, since I rarely feel like I was wronged (like "did you buy such-and-such a stock in 2003?"). The most lucrative "opt-in" was for a car company who overcharged on lease return "damage", and I thought "yeah, they did charge a lot for that door ding". I got $400-ish.

      The last check out-of-the-blue, was from AT&T Mobile, for something like "they charged too much tax"; I got a check the other day for $0.02. (Of course, I have long since switched to another carrier, for half the price, and everyone in my family has made use of the free international roaming feature),

      2 Cents? Really? Thank you, lawyers. I am sure you made more than 2 cents. To be fair, I got twice as much as my father-in-law. He got $0.01. The paper industry, the USPS, and many others got more than 2 cents to create and deliver my check. (Don't worry, I recycle paper... even thought that might cost more than it's worth...)

      BTW: I am NOT going to cash the check, it goes in the collection of other checks that are too retarded for words.
      • I did cash in my Nutella isn't healthy for you class action settlement check because I was out of Nutella.
      • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

        Thank you, lawyers. I am sure you made more than 2 cents.

        I'm sure they worked more than you to make it. Opt out and file a claim for yourself if you're so insulted - then you can keep it all for yourself.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Honestly, there's no reason jail-time should be off the table. This was a conscious act of fraud and deception (and later, cover-up) regarding vital tests on sick people. There's absolutely no question that it led to misdiagnoses and harm. Given the numbers of patients involved, it likely led to more than one death.

      She was a con artist, by every definition of the word.

      How is it even possible that jail time hasn't been openly discussed yet?

  • I drove by their office a few weeks ago. All the employees were out on the deck at lunch. They were staring around, mindlessly. Not much hope for that company.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @12:07AM (#53022413)
    had less than 800 employees? This is why the .com bubble isn't bursting this time. The valuations are all paper. Nothing's really being lost and the "losses" become massive tax breaks for the "investors". This'll get somebody (probably several somebodies) out of paying taxes for the next 20 years.
  • by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @12:09AM (#53022417) Journal

    I loved being able to go to Walgreens, walk into the Theranos booth, and get a $10 B12 test without a prescription. Let me do all kinds of analysis that the standard physicians approach didn't.

    But, with weekly B12 readings over the space of two months, there was 1 of the 8 readings that was obviously wrong. As an engineer, I'm used to noisy data so was still able to find the data useful.

    Last month, went to Theranos (to one of their blood testing centers, as Walgreens had shut them down by then) and had another done. Another obviously, completely incorrect reading, confirmed by a doctor-ordered test at another lab.

    So, even though I love the control they gave me (I could order any of a hundred tests on my own without having to convince my doctor to order it, or my insurance company to pay for it), I think it's best that they go away. Too much of modern medicine is conditioned on the results of a single, unverified test - the assumption is that the lab doesn't have an error rate. At least in my apocryphal case, Theranos grossly failed.

    I'll go back to the fantasy land where the other, more traditional labs (that want to charge me $150 for the same B12 test) always have correct readings...

    • by bytesex ( 112972 )

      What she wants is obviously very desirable and, eventually, possible. She's just a bit early (and perhaps made one too many fantastically overblown claim).

    • by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @09:40AM (#53023935) Journal

      As an engineer, I'm used to noisy data so was still able to find the data useful.

      [...]

      Another obviously, completely incorrect reading, confirmed by a doctor-ordered test at another lab.

      As a scientist (working with lots of engineers), I respectfully disagree that you are finding the data useful. You are only discarding the obviously incorrect values while keeping the non-obviously incorrect values. IOW, without a control you don't know which of the values (within the range you consider "valid") are correct and which are not.

      • To be pedantic, I am certainly finding the data useful, as I am certainly using it. Whether the data is accurate/correct or not, I agree that I have no way to tell. I'm making the assumption that there is some reasonable level of accuracy to be expected from their testing (B12 doesn't use their Edison machines), and getting an expected smooth curve out of most of the independent trials implies some level of process control and precision, but the outliers suggest that individual measurements are suspect.

        Of c

        • getting an expected smooth curve out of most of the independent trials implies some level of process control and precision,

          I'm afraid it does nothing of the sort. Ever seen deliberately massaged data? It always follows the expected curve with a few outliers thrown in for legitimacy.

          As you say, you're an engineer, so you're expecting data to be direct from a sensor with only non-human interference (EM, static, noise, etc). As a scientist my expectation is that the data has been massaged to fit the hypothesis.

          (Engineers are nowhere near as skeptical of other humans as scientists are :-))

    • Quoting a not so popular TV show:

      Through the power of the Internet, anyone can be an MD

      It wasn't giving you control, you were just feeding your own hypochondria.

      • Ignorance is bliss, isn't it?

        Learning about your diagnosed disease, including running what a doctor would call unnecessary tests in order to understand your personal response to treatment, isn't what I'd call "hypochondria" especially when the disease can be life threatening.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our ultimate goal is to commercialize miniaturized, automated laboratories capable of small-volume sample testing, with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations, including oncology, pediatrics, and intensive care.

    As opposed to, say, actually doing the science and testing to prove your gadget actually works.

    Nah, you'd rather just make money. Snake oil still sells...

    AC

  • Wet Blanket (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Posting just to bring back some perspective. I run the IT in quite a few labs and my wife is a lab inspector for an unnamed accrediting agency. Theranos surely is very bad (more than you know), but if you think your lab test results from your doctor are reliable, you are most likely incorrect. We joke about how labs should get a grade and hang it in the window, like restaurants do in some states. An A for only getting a 90 out of 100, a B for getting 80 out of 100, and an F for royally Fucked up lab. A
  • Inner Space (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Thursday October 06, 2016 @03:32AM (#53022891) Homepage

    Theranos To Shut Down Its Blood-Testing Facilities, Shrink Workforce By 40%

    So the blood test thing didn't work out, but they've got that revolutionary employee shrinking technology to fall back on!

    • Theranos To Shut Down Its Blood-Testing Facilities, Shrink Workforce By 40%

      So the blood test thing didn't work out, but they've got that revolutionary employee shrinking technology to fall back on!

      I understand they are changing their name to Thanatos as well

  • I'm happy for Theranos, I think they made the right decision.

    What they were trying to do with juggling a mainstream lab business and a biotech startup doesn't work. It's as if Uber had tried to run cab fleets to fund their car service startup; one way or another, priorities shift, ideas and problems of each side of the business leak in the other, and it becomes tempting to "leverage" the mainstream to beta test the disruptive stuff. Boh divisions become a liability for the other.

    Theranos sucked at their lab

  • so does this mean he's not going to be in the gardians of the galaxy sequel?

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