This Startup Accidentally Told A Bunch Of People They Have Cancer
by Trisha Leigh
Everyone knows you don’t ask the internet whether or not you have cancer (because the answer will always be “probably.”
That said, most people figure a medical company is going to be a little better at not freaking out patients – but they would be wrong, in this case.
Recently Grail, a biotech startup, reportedly did just that, sending 408 patients notifications that their blood work suggested they could have cancer, which turned out to not be the case.
In fact, over half of the people who were sent the messages had not even had blood drawn in the first place.
Grail claims that its early cancer detection test, called Galleri, can spot more than 50 cancers from a single blood sample. Despite the company calling this “revolutionary,” experts say the early trials are still inconclusive.
They say this is only a first step, and that large-scale trials are necessary before moving forward.
The company says the erroneous documents were a simple software glitch and weren’t caused by incorrect lab results. They claim all patients were contacted within 36 hours.
This comes as the company was preparing to show off the test at a large US conference, and now, according to a MassMutual rep, insurers and financial backers could get cold feet – and understandably so.
“We are aware that Grail proactively reached out to all our participants to address this issue as quickly as possible.”
That said, they’re still pausing their participation in the pilot program.
It seems like no matter how quickly things were rectified, this could still be a mortal wound to a biotech startup.