Denver company to pay $70K for misleading pandemic equipment claims

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DENVER  |  A medical equipment company is expected to pay Colorado $70,000 after the state alleged the business made misleading claims about masks and respirators sold during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state attorney general’s office on Monday said Denver-based Nationwide Medical Supply Inc. agreed to the payment, The Denver Post reports.

Colorado residents and businesses “need to be able to trust that the potentially life-saving products they are purchasing are as advertised,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement.

“We must hold irresponsible businesses accountable for deceptive practices, especially those that have the potential to cause direct harm to consumers,” Weiser said.

Weiser’s office said claims against the company included marketing a KN95 mask as an N95 respirator, claiming an N95 respirator and a KN95 mask were approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the European Union and illegally using the FDA logo.

The state also alleged the company inflated prices, a practice known as price gouging, which is prohibited during public emergencies.

Nationwide Medical Supply denied the allegations in a statement. Rather than fight the claims in court, the company said it would improve due diligence policies and procedures and continue “to be a trusted source of crucial PPE.”

“If true, the allegations establish only that Nationwide reproduced information provided to them, and did not intentionally mislead the public,” the company said.

The company sold masks at a markup exceeding 250% of Nationwide’s costs in obtaining the masks in some cases, the attorney general’s office said.

At least once, Nationwide authorized sales staff to negotiate prices with customers and gave a commission based on whether they could sell masks to medical and government purchasers for higher prices, the office said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

 

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