Walgreens is suing the embattled health startup Theranos over claims that the company breached its contract with the pharmacy chain after it was forced to void years worth of blood tests and give up testing altogether. That abandoning of Theranos's core product offering came after a ban by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and reports that the company's services didn't work as advertised. Consumerist reports that Walgreens is seeking $140 million.
A Walgreens spokesperson would not comment to the Business Times on the sealed lawsuit, but a Theranos spokesperson was less tight-lipped. “We are disappointed that Walgreens filed this lawsuit," Theranos said in a statement. "Over the years, Walgreens consistently failed to meet its commitments to Theranos. Through its mishandling of our partnership and now this lawsuit, Walgreens has caused Theranos and its investors significant harm. We will respond vigorously to Walgreens’ unfounded allegations, and will seek to hold Walgreens responsible for the damage it has caused to Theranos and its investors.”
Walgreens and Theranos began working together in 2010 with the goal of placing the startup's proprietary Edison blood-testing machines in pharmacies around the county. The resulting "wellness centers" popped up in 40 Walgreens before they were discontinued.
This is just the latest bit of bad news for Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who in early October announced that she would layoff hundreds of employees. That was quickly followed by the news that a major investor in the company, San Francisco's Partner Fund Management, was also suing Theranos in an attempt to get back some of the $96.1 million they invested.
A Theranos spokesperson said the company would fight that suit as well, noting that “the suit is without merit and Theranos will fight it vigorously. The company is very appreciative of its strong investor base that understands and continues to support the company’s mission.”
According to Forbes, Elizabeth Holmes net worth is now zero dollars. At its height, Theranos was valued at $9 billion. This summer Forbes said a more accurate number was probably about $800 million — time will tell if the latest effort to claw some cash back from the company will change that.