Walgreens Halts Theranos Testing Center Expansion

Walgreens won’t be going forward with any plans to open up more Theranos Wellness Centers until it can “understand the truth,” behind recent questioning of the blood work startup’s technology, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Walgreens and Theranos announced a partnership in September 2013, allowing Theranos to offer its lab testing services at Walgreens pharmacies, nationwide. Theranos began offering those services in 41 stores, including one in Palo Alto and in Walgreens stores in Arizona.

Theranos came under fire last week after two scathing Journal articles alleged the startup wasn’t using much of its tech in those wellness centers and that the test results were suspect.

Plans to open more Theranos Wellness Centers are dependent upon both companies’ ability to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. Walgreens
Theranos and the news organization have remained in a public battle over those claims since, including in an onstage interview between the Journal and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes at the Wall Street Journal Live conference. Holmes faced off with the Journal, refuted other public claims and alleged it was the Journal’s report, not her startup that was in the wrong.

Theranos later posted a lengthy update that went through bulleted arguments on what it claims the Journal misreported.

This battle has left those without a medical degree scratching their heads and plenty of uncertainty as to who is right. But those allegations – including one about a surprise investigation from the FDA, seems to have given Theranos’ main testing partner pause.

“We’re trying to figure out where we are and what we do going forward. We need to understand the truth,” a Walgreens official told the WSJ.

“With the completion of our Phoenix rollout that was part of our current agreement with Theranos, we are currently in discussions about the next phase of our relationship,” Walgreens spokesperson Michael Polzin told TechCrunch about the matter. “Plans to open more Theranos Wellness Centers are dependent upon both companies’ ability to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

Walgreens also put together an investigative team over the claims, according to the Journal. However, Polzin and Walgreens did not want to add comment beyond the statement above.

Theranos was not available for comment at the time of this writing, but Polzin did tell us over the phone that Theranos would still conduct testing in the current Walgreens centers that offer its services for the time being.