Walgreens dumps Theranos, dealing latest blow to embattled blood-testing startup

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The breakup is finally official. The Band-Aid has been ripped off. The partnership between Theranos and Walgreens is truly no more. After several torturous months, the drugstore chain has severed all ties with embattled Theranos Inc. in the latest in a series of very unfortunate events for the Silicon Valley-based startup. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the drug company became increasingly frustrated as Theranos failed to provide further details and documentation with regard to ongoing investigations from both federal and state regulatory agencies. For the last year, Theranos has faced charges that it corrected many blood tests, notably those performed on samples obtained from Walgreens patients.

“In light of the voiding of a number of test results, and as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has rejected Theranos’s 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,” Brad Fluegel, Walgreens’ senior vice president and chief healthcare commercial market development officer, said in a statement late Sunday evening. This marks the official conclusion to the three-year partnership between Walgreens and Theranos.

The implications of Walgreens’ decision are rather severe for Theranos, which will no longer be able to compete against major labs (though really, in light of all its other recent troubles, this was probably the case already). Still, without a major pharmacy to help, Theranos has its work cut out in terms of finding new consumers — as the Journal points out, the blood testing company will have to either figure out how to establish its own blood-draw sites, or go directly to doctors’ offices.

“We are disappointed that Walgreens has chosen to terminate our relationship, and remain fully committed to our mission to provide patients access to affordable health information and look forward to continuing to serve customers in Arizona and California through our retail locations,” said Theranos spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan. She also noted, “Quality and safety are our top priorities, and we are working closely with government officials to ensure that we not only comply with all federal regulations but exceed them.”

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