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SACRAMENTO, April 21, 2020 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in sending a letter to Michael Roman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of 3M, a principal manufacturer of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment (PPE). In the letter, the attorneys general acknowledge the initial steps 3M has taken to increase production of these vital masks for healthcare providers and counter price gouging by those seeking to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the attorneys general urge 3M to take enhanced measures to help fight price gouging in order to get these critical medical supplies to those who need them most.  

“In order to get through this public health crisis, it will take all of us working together – individuals, government agencies, and industry leaders alike,” said Attorney General Becerra.“We appreciate 3M’s efforts and ask them to go further to help us work together more effectively to combat price gouging. Together we can ensure that essential workers on the front lines get the protective equipment they so desperately need to stay safe during this pandemic.”    

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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been critical shortages of N95 respirators and other PPE due to increased demand. To aid our response to this crisis, hospitals, healthcare workers, and first responders who treat patients with COVID-19 and other critical illnesses must have affordable access to PPE. In acknowledgement of the COVID-19 crisis, 3M previously agreed to increase production of PPE and to not increase prices on respirators. However, others in the marketplace are charging unconscionable prices. Given 3M’s important role as a leading manufacturer of N95 respirators, the attorneys general ask 3M to take the following actions to help eliminate predatory practices and get these important medical supplies to the people who need them: 

  • Continue to publish policies prohibiting price gouging by their distributors and cease doing business with those distributors that violate them;  
  • Create a database of 3M’s inventory of N95 respirators for government officials and healthcare providers; and
  • Make transparent how inventory is being distributed and orders are being filled to help states plan how to best allocate resources and respond to the needs of our healthcare systems. 

In sending the letter, Attorney General Becerra joined the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. 

A copy of the letter is available here.