A report from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) claims that American supermarket chain Safeway is dropping a $350 million deal with Theranos, a private medical-laboratory services firm based in California. The report said the dissolution of the partnership is due to Safeway's executives questioning the accuracy and reliability of Theranos' finger-prick tests, which are the core components of the deal.
WSJ reported that the deal had been envisioned as Safeway's vital intervention in pushing the company's presence in the wellness market. Safeway is said to have built clinics in 800 of its stores to accommodate Theranos' blood tests.
The vision did not see the light as Theranos reportedly missed deadlines and were subjected to numerous questions involving the dependability of their products, which were provided to Safeway's employees in Pleasanton, California.
"But the tests never began, the clinics are now used largely for flu shots and travel-related vaccines," the WSJ article read.
More specifically, an executive from Safeway was bothered that the finger-prick method of Theranos is still a work in progress. According to him, he saw that Theranos frequently extracted blood from the same person twice. The first blood sample was drawn using the finger-prick test and the second, with the conventional technique involving a needle to extract blood in the arm.
Another point of concern is that one of Safeway's employees obtained a high result from a Theranos exam for prostate-specific antigen, which signifies that that person may have prostate cancer. When the employee did a re-test at another diagnostic facility, the laboratory findings were normal.
In a press release issued by Theranos, the company said that it is disappointed with "yet another" erroneous WSJ piece, completely relying on anonymous sources. "As we relayed to the Journal, the information published in this piece is again inaccurate, misleading and defamatory," the statement read.
Theranos continued by saying that no extent of contemptuous and deceptive news will halt it from staying in line with its goals and mission. The company is still committed to providing actionable, readily available and affordable health data to those who require it the most.
Theranos added that it is also committed to sharing information with regulators and leading medical organizations. With this, it has publicly invited third party institutions to audit, verify and publish data on its technologies, including peer-reviewed journals.
Meanwhile, Walgreens has also recently stopped additional test center expansions with Theranos and has reportedly sought the service of an internal team to investigate the claims.
Safeway has not issued an official statement and Theranos is still mum about the specific details, which it found inaccurate in the WSJ report.
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