HIDA Government Affairs Update

Distributors Help Providers Avoid Fraudulent PPE Offers

February 2021

The ongoing battle against COVID-19 continues to generate unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Faced with continued shortages, healthcare providers may be tempted to deal with unfamiliar sellers, even though many offers have proven to be fraudulent. Healthcare distributors can help providers reduce or avoid these risks.  

What are the business risks associated with using an unfamiliar PPE source?
The most critical risk is receiving unapproved, unsafe products. Providers who have used unvetted sources report having received incorrect product, poor quality items, or counterfeit items that fail to protect staff adequately. Other risks include losing money and wasting staff time.

What can you do to minimize the risk of sourcing from unknown vendors?
Healthcare providers can trust their distributor partner to vet new sources. Purchasers who do their own sourcing should be aware that offers that sound too good to be true often are. If considering an unfamiliar source, do basic due diligence such as checking references and securing a sample. Watch for red flags including:
  • Unrealistic promises such as too-good-to-be-true prices or volumes
  • Advance-payment requirements
  • Last-minute changes in payment instructions
  • Claims that the goods are not yet produced
  • Sellers who refuse to state which company they represent until it is time to make an agreement
What is a distributor’s role in vetting new sources of PPE?
Distributors vet and identify new PPE sources, leveraging the expertise they have developed as trusted partners with both providers and manufacturers. Additionally, some distributors have international employees or agents who can evaluate inventory at overseas sites.

What other resources are available to determine if a new source is legitimate?
Many manufacturers of PPE post helpful end-user purchasing information on their websites, such as lists (or hotlines) to confirm authorized sellers, the models and list prices at which their products may be sold, and descriptions of the intended use, labeling, packaging and certification of various PPE supplies.

Government regulators also maintain databases providers can check to determine if a vendor is authentic:
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, distributors have partnered with their provider customers to secure FDA-approved PPE and to identify appropriate substitutes for products that are in particularly short supply. Providers can continue to rely on distributors to find and deliver the supplies they need to keep themselves and their patients safe.

For more distributor resources including infographics and FAQs to share with clients, visit HIDA.org/UnderstandingHealthcareDistribution.