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Hawaii attorney general urges 3M to prevent price gouging of coronavirus safety equipment

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors speaks at a news conference in Honolulu on Feb. 4, 2020. Connors has joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in urging 3M to do more to combat inflated prices of N95 respirators.
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BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors speaks at a news conference in Honolulu on Feb. 4, 2020. Connors has joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in urging 3M to do more to combat inflated prices of N95 respirators.

The Hawaii Attorney General has joined a 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 during the coronavirus pandemic.

While 3M, as a leading manufacturer, has taken initial steps to increase production, and committed to maintaining prices for N95 respirators, when there has been a critical shortage, distributors and others in the marketplace have been charging unconscionable prices.

“3M has an incredibly important role to play in this ongoing crisis,” said Attorney General Clare E. Connors in a news release. “Like other corporate citizens, we are asking 3M to step up and do the right thing, by ensuring there is no price gouging on personal protective equipment.”

In a letter addressed to Michael F. Roman, the board chairman and chief executive officer of 3M, the coalition said their offices have been flooded with complaints from consumers and health care providers regarding excessive prices for PPE since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is crucial that hospitals, health care 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,” said the attorneys general.

The attorneys general asked 3M to take the following actions:

>> Continue to publish policies prohibiting price gouging by its distributors and cease doing business with those who violate them.

>> Create a database of 3M’s inventory of N95 respirators for government officials and health care providers.

>> Make transparent how inventory is being distributed and how orders are being filled.

The attorneys general asked, in addition, that 3M provide a point of contact for the company to continue these discussions.

3M responded, saying it appreciated the letter acknowledging “not only the significant efforts 3M has undertaken to address the shortage of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment,” but its pledge not to increase current pricing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said it is working closely with multiple state attorneys general as part of its national and global efforts to fight fraud, and that it welcomed the opportunity to partner together during the crisis.

“At a time when 3M is working to increase production of respirators needed in the fight against COVID-19, 3M is also taking strong action against those who are attempting to exploit this pandemic,” said Ivan Fong, 3M Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, in a statement. “Our efforts will continue, and as our CEO and I offered separately to every state Attorney General several weeks ago, we stand ready to do even more to combat fraud and protect the public in this time of crisis.”

The coalition, led by Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring, includes the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Letter from attorneys gener… by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

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