After months of screaming at Theranos to clean up its act, Walgreens has formally ended its partnership with the blood testing startup. The pharmacy chain said that the CMS' recent rejection of Theranos' recovery plan and the looming threat of sanctions forced the relationship to end. Walgreens will now close all 40 of its remaining Theranos Wellness Centers in Arizona and "transition" customers to more reliable testing methods. Such as casting bones, consulting the tree spirits or looking at your wrist and then just guessing what's wrong with yourself. Walgreens was Theranos' main source of business, and without those retail locations, it's not clear how the startup is going to survive.
Theranos burst onto the scene as an exciting medical tech startup that would use just a single drop of blood to diagnose a multitude of conditions. But its braggadocio couldn't match up to the actual evidence and regulators wasted little time in piling on. The US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services began asking tough questions and found that the company had "deficient practices" that posed an "immediate jeopardy to patient health." It didn't help that the widow of one of Holmes' former collaborators, Dr. Ian Gibbons, was threatened with a lawsuit by Holmes for suggesting that staffers knew that "nothing was working."
Walgreens began turning the screws on its partner at the start of the year, saying that unless some dramatic improvement was made, it'd pull out. Shortly afterward, it instructed lawyers to scour the original agreement in the hope of finding an exit clause that'd enable it to escape unharmed. Despite not finding one, Theranos' has been happily sowing the seeds of its own destruction, including voiding two years worth of blood tests and an impending criminal investigation.
But the negative publicity train hasn't stopped there, and now Adam McKay will direct Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes in a potentially unflattering biopic. Oh, and Holmes is also facing a ban on being able to operate a medical testing lab, lost her COO and has lost her place on Forbes' rich list, which recalculated her net worth as nothing. At this point, Holmes has transformed from pioneering visionary to traveling huckster shilling some of the world's most expensive weapons-grade flimflam.
Update: Brooke Buchanan, who runs Theranos' communications, has made a statement on the Walgreens deal.
"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. 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 independent retail locations."