3M questions Trump order to halt respirator exports

Regulatory NewsRegulatory News | 03 April 2020 |  By 

The Trump Administration on Thursday formally invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to require 3M to prioritize orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for N95 respirator masks and requested that the firm cease exporting respirators to Canada and Latin America.

Trump tweeted late Thursday: “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. ‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing - will have a big price to pay!”

In a comment released Friday, 3M raised issues with the administration’s order and request that it cease exporting respirators currently made in the US and distributed to the Canadian and Latin American markets.

“There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators. In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek,” 3M said.

Brian Lewis, CEO of Medtech Canada, the national association representing the medical technology industry, said both countries need one another, adding: “We urge the Trump administration to reconsider its decision in order to ensure that patients and health care workers on both sides of our border continue to have unimpeded access to life-saving medical supplies.”

The administration also requested that 3M increase the number of respirators currently imported from its overseas operations into the US. “We appreciate the assistance of the Administration to do exactly that. For example, earlier this week, we secured approval from China to export to the U.S. 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M in China,” the Minnesota-based company added.

This is not the first time the administration has sought to use the DPA to push manufacturers in a particular direction.

On Thursday the administration also issued a DPA order to help domestic manufacturers like General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips and Vyaire Medical secure the supplies they need to build ventilators to help treat those with COVID-19. Previously, the administration sought to require General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators.


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