The massive pharmacy chain CVS Health has decided it won't stock uBiome's testing kits in its stores, according to a CVS spokesman. uBiome was counting on selling the kits in CVS stores as part of a plan to get a fresh start and to demonstrate to potential acquirers that the company still has value.
"Simply put, uBiome needs a clean slate and a fresh start to save the business and 100 jobs," uBiome acting CEO Curtis Solsvig said in a court document.
The company said in its bankruptcy filing that it hopes to entice an investor to purchase it for its scientific knowledge of the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that live in and on our bodies. uBiome said it had approached 180 potential acquirers, but couldn't seal a deal. Potential uBiome buyers face risks that include civil and criminal penalties resulting from ongoing investigations into uBiome's business practices, the document said.
"Given the circumstances surrounding uBiome, we'll be stopping shipments and, in the event product has already arrived in store, marking it as 'do not sell,'" TJ Crawford, a CVS spokesman, told Business Insider by email.
The company has been in hot water for several months, after the startup's problems burst into public view following an FBI raid in April. uBiome is currently under federal investigation related to its billing practices, and laid off half its staff earlier this summer.
In addition, insiders told Business Insider that key science was flawed from the start, prompting the company to start an internal investigation. A top science journal where uBiome published its basic research is also investigating.
The kits that uBiome planned to sell at CVS stores are known as the Explorer. uBiome also sells them on its website for $89. To take an Explorer test, you sample your poop at home, and send it to uBiome for analysis.
Then you get back an online report comparing the bacteria in your gut to that of other uBiome volunteers in the company's database. The company says that the results aren't supposed to be used to diagnose or treat diseases.