It’s never pretty to watch a startup going down the tubes…it is beginning to happen in large fashion with Theranos.
News broke today that Walgreens is dumping all the in-store test centers that it had created with the Theranos brand. The pundits today thought that this is pretty much as close as it gets to being a nail in the coffin of a company that has been under withering attack for some time.Walgreens has already flushed all traces of Theranos from their website. Click To Tweet
“Walgreens has already flushed all traces of Theranos from their website. Their search engine no longer returns anything when you search for “Theranos.” It doesn’t even return an error message, as it should, if I were to do a search, say, for my first name. Searching for Theranos simply redirects you to the homepage. This is a massive and deliberate suppression., a partnership that once was the subject of much fanfare.
For people who are not familiar with the Theranos story, the premise was that they could analyze blood tests with much less of a sample than people are accustomed to. Anyone who has ever had to get a blood test has probably wondered if the lab really needed all those vials of blood. At least, I certainly have. This, of course, would have been a win for patients, as well as insurance companies who pay the brunt of these lab charges.
A lot of folks from the scientific research community had their doubts. They were not dazzled by Elizabeth Holmes’ stellar educational background and fantastical claims. They were not swayed by the swelling list of influencers who drowned out more skeptical voices. They were not impressed by the large valuation that investors seemed all too willing to ascribe to Theranos.
When Theranos continued to slowly deflate under scrutiny, other voices began to emerge and also ask the hard questions. From time to time, a teenager may make the news because they won a science fair or other competition on the basis of an invention that appears to hold massive promise for our health and well-being.
Here, we are not dealing with teenagers who have half-baked ideas and little experience in the real-world. While Elizabeth Holmes may be the face of Theranos, there are a lot of people at fault for keeping this mythical promise alive. To a degree, I think the story of a successful, self-made, female billionaire was just too juicy to pass up.
At the same time that Theranos was not keeping their word about publishing reports of their work to the FDA and peers in the industry, they were promising to publish well over 100. At least for Walgreens, it seems that promises, and data that is so transparent to the point of being non-existing, are no longer good enough. If it hadn’t already started, it seems that the death spiral of Theranos has officially begun.