What is Really Behind the Rising Cost of PPE's?
Regular hospital purchasers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are walking a balancing act of stressed budgets and increased prices for the masks, gowns and gloves their medical staff need. Increased demand for covid-19 testing and care added on top of regular emergency patient care has caused many to ration supplies or ask for donations to mitigate the budget crunch.
Many complain that suppliers are price gouging and profiteering because of the coronavirus crisis, but this is not a simple issue of market economy supply and demand. The entire supply chain has been affected by the response to the covid-19 pandemic, and the cost of production will likely continue to rise.
As demand for PPE products increases, factories are pushing employees to work extra hours and are paying over-time wages to keep them producing. This increased production has led to a shortage in raw materials needed for the end product. Where suppliers used to piggyback shipments on commercial flights to lower shipping rates, these flights are now few and far between with international travel at a standstill.
Some mass producers of N95 masks, like Pakistan, have placed a ban on export of their PPE products to preserve them for their own country's needs. President Trump has done the same with companies like 3M who produce N95 masks, but this effort will do little to increase availability in the US. <SEE ARTICLE>
Unfortunately the PPE supply chain will continue to take a beating for the weeks and months to come which will likely lead to continued price hikes and shortages. It is unclear how long it will take for manufacturers to recover and for prices to return to normal, or if increased prices will become part of the "new normal" post-covid.