Theranos withdraws its comeback test for Zika just a month after announcing it

Elizabeth Holmes AACCAACC/YouTubeTheranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes

Theranos is withdrawing its bid for FDA approval of a diagnostic test for Zika that they announced earlier in August, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal

John Carreyrou and Christopher Weaver report that an FDA inspection found that, as part of a study to validate the new test, the company had collected some data without a patient safety plan in place that was approved by an institutional review board.

The role of the board is to make sure that ahead of the trial and during it, the subjects’ rights and welfare are protected, according to the FDA. It’s a standard part of running studies that involve humans.

In the case of the Theranos study, the Journal noted, “it isn’t clear if the problem affected any patients.”

Earlier this month, Theranos debuted a new blood-testing system at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry’s annual conference — its first medical conference appearance — that included a machine that takes the sample of blood and processes it so it can give a diagnosis or tell you your cholesterol level. Theranos is calling the device the “miniLab.”

Along with the miniLab, CEO Elizabeth Holmes also ran through a diagnostic test for the Zika virus, which the company was running studies on in the Dominican Republic and Colombia. As part of that, the company was collecting finger-stick blood samples from the Dominican Republic to validate the test.

Theranos did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. 

“We hope that our decision to withdraw the Zika submission voluntarily is further evidence of our commitment to engage positively with the agency,” Theranos vice president of regulatory and quality Dave Wurtz told The Journal. Wurtz joined the company in July.

Citing an email to Theranos investors, The Journal reports that the company plans to resubmit the Zika test for approval once it collects more data that adheres to the FDA’s requirements.

On Friday, Theranos said it was appealing the government sanctions that have barred Holmes from running a blood-testing lab for two years.

The sanctions from Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has oversight of labs like Theranos’, came after the company failed its California lab inspection. The California lab doesn’t currently test patients, but the company’s Arizona lab is still up and running.

The sanctions from July also included revoking the California lab’s Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments licence (the regulatory standards that apply to all clinical labs) after 60 days, prohibiting the lab from participating in the Medicare program and cancelling the lab’s approval to receive Medicare payments.

“Theranos has made substantial progress toward correcting the deficiencies CMS identified, including appointing new laboratory leadership; enhancing Theranos’ clinical policies and procedures; and revamping training programs,” the company said in a release.

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