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Theranos Presents New Blood Testing Product Despite Criticism

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Elizabeth Holmes, the Chief Executive Officer of embattled blood-testing company Theranos, presented plans for a new product Monday and said that the company was working to address all of its outstanding issues regarding its operations, Reuters reports.

Holmes unveiled the new technologies as products that were “distinct from the operations of our clinical laboratories” at a presentation before around 2,650 scientists at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting. Theranos has been under fire for questionable product and laboratory procedures, and the United States Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had just recently sanctioned Holmes and the company.

The meeting was the CEO’s first public appearance since the sanctions. Theranos has been heavily criticized for not sharing information on its technology, and this presentation was partly meant to address the issue.

The new technologies Holmes presented included a “minilab” that can run a variety of tests on a single desktop device.

Among these tests is a diagnostic procedure for Zika, which Holmes said can detect more strains of the mosquito-borne virus from finger-prick blood drops. She added that the company had sent the Zika results to the US Food and Drug Administration and that Theranos believes the analysis of blood using this method was as effective as other methods. The comparison was also sent to the FDA.

Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that was once valued at $9 billion, was established by Holmes in 2003 to create a unique blood testing device that would produce quick, accurate results with just one drop of blood.

The company’s troubles began in October 2015, when the Wall Street Journal published articles pointing to the flaws and inaccuracies of the Theranos blood testing system.

During the meeting, doctors on stage challenged aspects of Theranos technology, to the applause of audience members. Before introducing Holmes, association president Patricia Jones clarified that the organization does not endorse Theranos, stating, “We’re all aware that there have been some suggestions about whether we’ll see some science today and the viability of Theranos technology.”

Holmes said in an interview that Theranos has taken measures to fix the concerns, including appointing an independent board committee and hiring a new chief compliance officer. She also said that the four patient testing centers in Phoenix, Arizona, continue to generate revenue.

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