- UBiome’s co-founders and co-CEOs Jessica Richman and Zac Apte have been placed on administrative leave, the company said Wednesday.
- The move follows an FBI raid on uBiome’s offices in San Francisco.
- uBiome, a startup that sells tests that sequence your microbiome, has named John Rakow as interim CEO. Rakow is the company’s general counsel.
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UBiome’s co-founders and co-CEOs Jessica Richman and Zac Apte have been placed on administrative leave, after an FBI raid on the company’s headquarters.
UBiome named General Counsel John Rakow as interim CEO and said in a news release Wednesday that it plans to undertake an independent investigation into the company’s billing practices, overseen by its board.
“We intend to cooperate fully with government authorities and private payors to satisfactorily resolve the questions that have been raised, and we will take any corrective actions that are needed to ensure we can become a stronger company better able to serve patients and healthcare providers,” Rakowsaid in a news release Wednesday.
The FBI raided the San Francisco offices of uBiome on Friday. UBiome sells tests that sequence the microbiome, or the assortment of bacteria and other microbes that live in our bodies. To date, the company has raised$105 million from investors.
The Wall Street Journal,which first reported on the raid, reported that the FBI is investigating uBiome’s billing practices.
Read more: The FBI reportedly just raided microbiome-testing startup uBiome as part of an investigation into improper billing
At the time, the FBI confirmed that its agents were “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity” at the address of uBiome’s headquarters, but declined to provide further information.
UBiome sells doctor-ordered tests including SmartJane, its test that looks at the vaginal microbiome to test for sexually transmitted diseases as well as chronic vaginal infections, and SmartGut, which looks at the gut microbiome to test for gut conditions and metabolic disorders. Both can be covered by health insurance. uBiome also sells a direct-to-consumer test that doesn’t require a prescription called the “Explorer” test.
CNBC reports that uBiome routinely charged patients’ plans twice for tests. CNBC also reported that health insurer Anthem had flagged the company for its over-billing practices. Anthem did not immediately return a request for comment.
Scientists have been working on ways to use the microbiome to unlock new treatments for difficult diseases. It’s led to new companies — both on the medical side and inagriculture— that are taking a range of approaches to looking at the microbiome. It’s often seen as the “forgotten organ.”
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