Cases of price gouging of N95 respirators

N95 respirator:

N95 face filtrating respirators are protective masks, more commonly referred to as N95 masks, that filter out harmful airborne particles and prevent us from inhaling them. N95 masks protect us from both tiny and large particles present in the air around us; the '95' in N95 informs us that filtering harmful airborne particles is at least 95 percent effective.

An N95 mask acts as a barrier between you and the outside atmosphere to protect you from dangerous fine particles and viruses suspended in the air. However, a N95 mask must be the correct size for you in order to achieve well-sealed protection against airborne toxins. Gaps can result in a mask that is too big, exposing us to tiny airborne particles that are hazardous to our health.

Put your hands over the filter surface to check if a good seal is achieved by the mask, and blow out to check for any leaks. If you sense the air escaping from the edges of the mask, this means that it has not obtained a full seal.

Use of N95 respirator:

We rely on healthcare professionals to care for those affected when infectious disease outbreaks occur, placing themselves at increased risk of exposure to the pathogen causing the disease.

While the first considerations for shielding these personnel from this exposure should be engineering and administrative controls, facilities should also ensure that at-risk staff, among other personal protective equipment, are trained to use respiratory measures should the need occur.

N95 masks are particularly manufactured or created for the industrial area employees. The industrial area such as painting, mining, construction, etc. Staff members in manufacturing industries face several issues with the respiratory system due to dust, smoke, and all other bad particles. 

During poor breathing conditions, the valve on the N95 masks helps to boost inhalation. The capacity of N95 to avoid or block large oil particles and harmful gases.

CDC Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators:

CDC developed the Strategies for Maximizing the Supply of N95 Respirators in Healthcare Settings to help healthcare facilities encounter shortages of N95 respirators due to high demand across the country, including options on how to maximize supplies of disposable N95 filtering facepiece respirators (commonly referred to as 'N95 respirators') in healthcare settings when there is restricted supply.

For healthcare workers in close contact with (i.e. within 6 feet of) patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during aerosol generating procedures, and for infectious diseases, the CDC prioritizes respiratory usage if airborne measures are to be observed.

Those very procedures include triage patient evaluation, accessing testing rooms or patient rooms to provide treatment or clean and disinfect the area, entering the home of a patient, collecting clinical samples, and handling soiled medical supplies or equipment.

Cases of price gouging of N95 respirators:

In association with the service, the leading manufacturer of N95 masks in the U.S. says it has investigated 4,100 allegations of fraud, counterfeiting, and price gouging and filed 18 lawsuits.

Maplewood-based 3M is among the world's largest manufacturers of the N95 mask, which has been licensed by the U.S. Occupational Protection and Health National Institute.

3M reports that six temporary restraining orders and four provisional injunctions have been issued by courts so far to stop N95 sales that it claims are unlawful. The organization claims it has contributed to criminal charges in some situations.

“The schemes we shut down were not only unlawful, they also endangered lives and wasted precious time and resources by diverting buyers from legitimate sources of much-needed respirators,” said Denise Rutherford, 3M senior vice president of corporate affairs.

3M said that more than 7,100 fake offers to sell its N95 respirators have been thwarted. In federal court in Minnesota, the company said it has also sued two illegal suppliers. Bill Childs, the senior counsel, said Thursday that many of the fraudsters appear to have exclusive access to stockpiles of N95 masks.

Filed in one case in the U.S. 3M sued Legacy Medical Supplies and four individuals affiliated with the corporation in Minnesota District Court, alleging they were attempting to market 3M brand N95 respirators at a 75 percent to 267 percent markup over the list price of 3M.

“In one of them, the defendants had all sorts of things they were doing to claim that they were 3M distributors or were somehow part of 3M, including claiming they had a relationship with our chief financial officer. That relationship doesn’t exist. And of course, if it did, it wouldn’t make a difference. Our officers aren’t going around selling respirators or giving their friends direct access,” Childs said.

3M has created new 3M hotlines in the U.S. and around the world to help end-users and consumers of 3M products identify genuine 3M respirators and ensure that products are from 3M certified distributors to help fight COVID-19-related fraud.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3M did not, and would not, raise prices for its respiratory security products. For several of the most popular models of 3M N95 respirators, 3M has released the latest U.S. list prices to help clients recognize and prevent inflated prices.

3M have brought cases against wrongdoers in courts around the country, terminated 3M distributors for gaging in price gouging or breaching 3M policy, and worked to tackle fraud with law enforcement and technology companies.

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