The drug chain said Thursday that it has informed Theranos that it must immediately cease sending any clinical lab tests provided through Theranos Wellness Centers at Walgreens to the Theranos lab in Newark, Calif., for analysis.
The action came in response to a Jan. 25 letter that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent to Theranos, according to Walgreens. The pharmacy chain said no patient samples will be sent to the Newark lab until all issues raised by CMS have been resolved.
Also, Walgreens told Theranos that tests gathered at the 40 Theranos Wellness Centers in its drug stores in Arizona must be sent only to Theranos’ certified lab in the Phoenix area, or to an accredited third-party lab for analysis.
In late October, Walgreens indicated that it was re-examining its partnership with Theranos, whose technology has come under scrutiny in media reports.
The Theranos service enables consumers to receive clinician-directed lab testing from a small blood sample taken via finger stick or a micro-sample taken from traditional methods. The Palo Alto-based company’s technology has been seen as a potential breakthrough in lab testing because it would eliminate the need for larger needles and numerous vials of blood as required for most diagnostic lab tests — as well as provide results much faster and at a much lower cost.
Walgreens and Theranos announced a partnership in 2013 in which Theranos Wellness Centers would be rolled out to Walgreens stores nationwide. Thus far, Theranos centers have been opened at 40 Walgreens stores in the Phoenix market since the opening of the first center in September 2013 at a Walgreens store in Palo Alto.