Posted April 3, 2020

Trump invokes DPA to boost respirator production

President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on Thursday to push 3M and six major medical device companies to produce protective masks and ventilators needed for the coronavirus outbreak.

“Moments ago, I directed Secretary Azar and acting Secretary Wolf to use any and all available authority under the Defense Protection Act to ensure that domestic manufacturers have the supplies they need to produce ventilators for patients with severe cases of Covid-19,” Trump said at his Thursday press conference.

The medical device DPA order covers General Electric, Hill-Rom Holdings, Medtronic, ResMed, Phillips and Vyaire Medical, authorizing HHS Secretary Alex Azar to “facilitate the supply of materials to the [companies] for the production of ventilators,” according to a White House statement.

Trump said the order will help the companies “overcome obstacles of the supply chain that threaten the rapid supply of ventilators."

The president also said he signed “an element of the [DPA] against 3M.” That order authorizes the head of FEMA to acquire however many N95 face masks from the company he deems necessary for the crisis. And the administration indicated Thursday that more DPA orders could come soon, possibly related to black market activities.

In response to the announcement, 3M issued a statement indicating that the company has "gone above and beyond" to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market. Yesterday's order formally invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to require 3M to prioritize orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for our N95 respirators.

"We have been working closely with the Administration to do exactly that, and we appreciate the authorities in the DPA that provide a framework for us to expand even further the work we are doing in response to the global pandemic crisis. We look forward to working with FEMA to implement yesterday’s order," the company said.

"In the course of our collaboration with the Administration this past weekend, the Administration requested that 3M increase the amount of respirators we currently import from our overseas operations into the U.S. 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 Administration also requested that 3M cease exporting respirators that we currently manufacture in the United States 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.

"We also continue to act on reports of price gouging and unauthorized reselling related to 3M respirators. This activity is unethical and illegal. We are working with the U.S. Attorney General and attorneys general of every state, making it clear that 3M has not and will not raise prices for respirators and offering our assistance in the fight.

"We look forward to working closely with the Administration to implement yesterday’s DPA order. We will continue to maximize the amount of respirators we can produce on behalf of U.S. healthcare workers, as we have every single day since this crisis began."