Theranos is continuing its descent into the new year as it makes plans to lay off 40 percent of its workforce and struggles to overcome past compliance issues. The blood-testing company describes its decision to lay off 155 employees as “further re-engineering”, leaving “a core team of 220 professionals to execute on its business plans” according to a statement on the company’s website.
Theranos’ downward motion was first signaled in October after 340 employees were laid off and clinical laboratories and wellness centers were shut down. The company has also faced distrust due to compliance issue allegations by regulators, ultimately ending in the company voiding two years of test results from its blood-testing equipment the year previous. Theranos also lost Walgreens as a business partner and faced lawsuits from patients as well as investors. The company continues to strain against strict sanctions imposed by regulators. Elizabeth Holmes, chief executive of Theranos, is banned for two years from owning or operating a clinical laboratory.
Theranos brought in crisis management professionals in December to augment corporate ranks. The blood testing company further shuffled its roster by adding a molecular diagnostic expert to its medical-scientific advisory board and letting go of retired Marine General James Mattis from the board of directors. The down-sized company is now working on getting its minilab testing platform ready for the market.
The company said in a statement that “teams have been aligned to meet product development, regulatory and commercial milestones.” The debut of its minilab testing, however, fell short of reaching its public interest goals, as a scientific conference session held over the summer reminded the crowd of the company’s initial disappointment. The lackluster response can be attributed in part due to Holmes’ silence of why the company’s previous blood-testing device did not work as promised. This omission is especially disappointing to scientists as this device helped make Theranos on of the most sought-after start-ups in the past few years.