RICHMOND (April 21, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is leading a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in urging 3M to do more to combat inflated prices of N95 respirators and other desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE). There has been a critical shortage of PPE across the country and distributors have been taking advantage of that and charging higher than normal prices for N95 face masks and other PPE. The coalition highlights that, while 3M has committed to maintaining prices for N95 respirators, distributors and others in the marketplace have been charging unconscionable prices.
Attorney General Herring sent this letter after Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a non-partisan coalition of almost 50 faith communities and civic organizations in Northern Virginia working together to strengthen middle and low-income communities, and its parent organization the Industrial Areas Foundation shared their experiences in the PPE market and helped identify additional actions to address the issue.
“Unfortunately during this national public health crisis, our country is facing a catastrophic personal protective equipment shortage and there are some bad actors who are trying to take advantage of that by charging unconscionable prices to make more money,” said Attorney General Herring. “3M has already made significant efforts to address the N95 mask shortage and I look forward to working together with them to ensure that healthcare workers, hospitals, and first responders are able to get the equipment they need at reasonable, fair prices.”
In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues say “It is crucial that hospitals, healthcare workers, and first responders have access to these masks and other PPE and that they are able to obtain them at reasonable prices so that they can care for patients with COVID-19 as well as others needing medical attention.”
The attorneys general ask 3M to take the following actions, in addition to the steps they have already taken, to try work towards eliminating price gouging of PPE:
- Continue to publish policies prohibiting price gouging by its distributors and cease doing business with those distributors who violate them.
- Create a database of 3M’s inventory of N95 respirators for government officials and healthcare providers.
- Make transparent how inventory is being distributed and how orders are being filed.
“Cleaning up the black market is not a victory if the result is no market at all,” said Reverend Kristen McBrayer, VOICE Chair and Pastor of Emmaus United Church of Christ in Vienna, VA. “VOICE is deeply grateful for Attorney General Herring’s leadership, and the leadership of 19 other AGs, in getting 3M to respond to this supply crisis and get N95 masks to the frontline workers who need them most.”
“Despite the steps 3M has taken to curb the most extreme price gouging, the fact remains that healthcare buyers across America simply can’t find the N95 masks they need at fair prices,” said Bishop Douglas Miles, Co-Chair, Industrial Areas Foundation.
Following Governor Northam’s state of emergency declaration, Attorney General Herring has taken many actions to help Virginians navigate the uncertainty surrounding the COVID19 pandemic. Attorney General Herring has:
Additionally, Attorney General Herring has urged the Trump Administration to take many different actions to protect Virginians and Americans during this time including:
Today’s effort and was led by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.