Startups, Diagnostics

23andMe could sell its spit kits at Walgreens

“Soon we’re going to be in Walgreens,” 23andMe Chief Scientific Officer Richard Scheller reportedly said at a forum at the University of California, San Francisco. “You just buy one.”

23andme

We may soon see 23andMe test kits lining the shelves of Walgreens, San Francisco Business Times reports. Specifically, its “spit kits” will be available in the national retail health chain – though on the record, no deal’s on the horizon.

“Soon we’re going to be in Walgreens,” 23andMe Chief Scientific Officer Richard Scheller reportedly said at a forum at the University of California, San Francisco. “You just buy one.”

SFBT’s Ron Leuty writes:

It was unclear if a potential deal with Walgreens would include the full range of health reports from 23andMe or a selection of specific tests.

The company, however, appeared to backpedal on Scheller’s statement and would not discuss Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) specifically. Spokesman Andy Killsaid 23andMe has “been open about exploring additional channels for our product and have talked with multiple retailers over the last few years. However, there is nothing imminent to announce.”

Two years ago, Food and Drug Administration admonished 23andMe for not seeking approval for its testing kits before marking it directly to consumers – placing sanctions on the gene testing company’s ability to provide information about disease-causing genes. Instead, 23andMe was allowed only to provide ancestry information.

Late last year, however, FDA allowed 23andMe to provide 36 genetic health risk reports – and it plans to ramp up its health offerings, President Andy Page said in a January interview.

Six years ago, Walgreens considered selling a genetic diagnostic test from Pathway Genomics – but when regulators cracked down on the effort, it chose to not carry the test.

Walgreens is a logical partner for the genetics upstart, as it’s got a vested interest in staying at the forefront of commercial bioscience. After all, it teamed up with Theranos for its single-blood-drop diagnostics technology, despite the obvious failings of the Silicon Valley unicorn.

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