Theranos, the $US10-billion blood-testing company currently embroiled in questions about the legitimacy of its test methods and its leadership, is making some changes to its board of directors.
But they’re far less severe than Theranos has made them out to be.
According to a report from The New York Times, the company announced last night that board members Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz — both of whom are former secretaries of state — would be leaving Theranos’ leadership.
The decision appears to be part of Theranos’ attempts to address public concerns about its failure to include medical experts on its board. As it stands, the vast majority of Theranos’ leadership has military and government backgrounds, not medical or science ones.
As it turns out, though, Kissinger and Shultz aren’t actually leaving. They’re just becoming members of a new Theranos board.
According to the Times, all the members of the former board of directors, including Kissinger and Shultz, are now members of a new group — a “board of counselors,” which the Times notes will “still give advice to the company.” In addition to these two groups, Theranos created an another board “to give medical advice.”
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes also told the Times that all these changes happened this summer.
As of Thursday morning, Theranos’ website lists the members as “boards of directors and counselors.” It does not specify which member is serving on what board.
The company has also added trial lawyer David Boies to its leadership. Boies previously served as Special Trial Counsel for the US Department of Justice during its antitrust suit against Microsoft and lead counsel for former Vice President Al Gore during litigation related to the 2000 Florida vote count.
Theranos gained notoriety through its claims that it could perform medical tests by collecting blood samples with little more than a drop of blood, which ideally could be performed at pharmacies and would make testing easier, cheaper, and faster than having to visit a doctor’s office to have vials and vials of blood drawn.
Theranos’ finger prick method relies on its proprietary “nanotainers” to collect blood samples, but the FDA recently deemed those containers “uncleared medical device[s].”
In other words, because the company failed to get regulatory approval for its nanocontainers, the FDA claims they’re essentially using them illegally. Earlier this month, Theranos announced it would stop using its finger prick method on all of its tests except one for herpes, which they got FDA approval for back in July.
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