There are Many ‘Bad Actors’ In the Space of PPE Suppliers – Here’s How to Spot One

By Pittsburgh Healthcare Report - May 25, 2020

Procurement teams across the globe are working tirelessly to provide support to our healthcare workers, first responders, and teams fighting on the front lines against COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 on personal protection equipment (PPE) supply chains has been extraordinary, opening up opportunities for bad actors, scam artists, and price gouging to take advantage of prospective customers and government agencies. Speaking to address the concern, Attorney General William P. Barr describes, “The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.” Although there are interventions underway to help restrain heinous opportunists from the supply chain, it is also important to increase awareness on the markers of a possible red flag.

When the Deal is Too Good, Too Fast

Getting manufactured products from other countries to the United States is a logistical challenge. It is far more complex than domestic logistics because it is prone to challenges that include (but are not limited to) language/culture barriers, production schedules for finished and raw materials, export/import procedures, ocean, and air freight factors (rates, capacity, service levels). That’s why you should be especially wary of brokers claiming to be able to deliver overnight products. (A broker is a company or individual selling products produced by a manufacturer)

Traditionally, brokers have always been companies that work directly with manufacturers within the United States and abroad. As such, coupled with the fact that there is an increase in the demand for PPE in the marketplace, it would be very unrealistic to expect overnight delivery from an overseas supplier. This is in fact, not possible. Therefore, any broker making such claims might likely indeed be a fraud.

Are the Products Verifiable?

Although most brokers can offer you a product and shipping options, middlemen cannot do so often. It is, therefore, important to know who you are working with, what role they play, and the impact they will have on your procurement process. In addition, it is very imperative that you or a member of your team properly vet each product you plan to purchase. Product verification is the most important step in the procurement process. There are a number of methods that you could use to vet the procurement process. However, according to Blueflame Medical, please consider the following:

  • Evaluate the length of the relationship you have with your manufacturers
  • Identity whether or not you can speak directly with the head of the manufacturing company
  • Ask if you can be provided a copy of your manufacturer’s licenses. See if they match
  • Know where are all your manufacturing facilities are located – with addresses
  • Determine if the supplier has photos or video tours taken within the last 24 hours of the facilities and products coming on the manufacturing line?
  • Ask if they are pre-qualified or qualify every box after manufacturing.
  • Work with a manufacturer where nothing is prequalified
  • Ask for weekly and monthly capacity for each item you’re looking to procure
  • Ask if the manufacturer will ship product samples and how long it will take to receive the samples

By taking these precautionary steps, and providing this advice, Blueflame Medical can be duly trusted. This group is supporting our health care and hospital partners with essential PPE gear through this unprecedented surge of demand for face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. To accomplish this mission, they have partnered with Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Singletary in what has been termed as, “America’s Largest and Fastest PPE Supply Chain Partnership.”

Bad Actors Don’t Have Good Products

The co-founders of Blueflame Medical believe that COVID-19 “is a crisis of resources,” and “If every American had access to high-quality masks, testing kits, and the dozens of other medical supplies they need, we would have flattened the curve of infection already.” It is, therefore, very important for stakeholders within the PPE procurement process to be in a position to prove and verify the quality of products. Moreover, they must ensure that the products adhere to international standards. For instance, Blueflame Medical partner relationships have facilitated the quick supply of high quality, lifesaving PPE to Americans across the nation in line with provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Blueflame Medical vows to work tirelessly to ensure first responders, healthcare professionals, and clients receive the critical supplies they deserve

The CE marking on products will also help you know whether the product your supplier is getting you conforms to health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA). The CE marking is also found on products sold outside the EEA that have been manufactured to EEA standards. This makes the CE marking recognizable worldwide even to people who are not familiar with the European Economic Area.

For a successful transaction, you need a reliable and certified broker who is prepared to assist you or your procurement team. Even better would be a broker who is ready to be by your side throughout the duration of your business relationship. Blueflame Medical wants to help empower you to make the best purchasing decisions for you and your business. Find them on their website.