Theranos CEO faces critics, presents new product plans

Mon Aug 1, 2016 10:57pm EDT
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By Suzanne Barlyn

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The chief executive of embattled Theranos Inc on Monday presented plans for a new product and said the blood testing company was working diligently to rectify all of its outstanding issues involving its product and laboratory operations.

CEO Elizabeth Holmes described new technologies that she said were "distinct from the operations of our clinical laboratories" that have come under scrutiny - part of a presentation before some 2,650 scientists at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting in Philadelphia.

Those technologies included a new "minilab" product that can run a broad range of tests on a single desktop machine.

It was her first public appearance since the privately held company and Holmes personally were sanctioned by the U.S. government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Theranos has long been criticized by the medical community for refusing to share information about its technology and Monday's appearance was aimed in part at addressing those concerns.

Among the tests that can be run through the minilab technology is a diagnostic for Zika that Holmes said can detect additional strains of the mosquito-borne virus from blood drops finger-pricked from patients. Zika has spread rapidly across the Americas.

Holmes said the company had sent the Zika results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and that the company believed the analysis of blood collected using its finger-prick methodology was as effective as other methods, a comparison also sent to the FDA.

The company, once valued at $9 billion, was founded by Holmes in 2003 to develop an innovative blood testing device that would give quicker results using just one drop of blood.

Theranos ran into trouble after the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles beginning last October suggesting the blood-testing devices were flawed and inaccurate.   Continued...

Theranos Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Holmes speaks on stage at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards where she receives an award, in the Manhattan borough of New York November 9, 2015.    REUTERS/Carlo Allegri