3M (MMM 3.21%), maker of N95 respirator masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), is denying reports that U.S. authorities seized and diverted a shipment of its PPE. The report alleged that a shipment of respirator masks from a 3M factory in China to the Berlin police on Friday had been seized. But 3M says it has no record of any such order.
This false report comes on the heels of President Trump last week using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to block 3M from exporting N95 masks from the U.S. The company responded that its employees have already been doing everything possible to supply as many N95 respirator masks as possible to the domestic market.
3M is offering assistance to Germany to investigate the false seizure report, to determine if there was fraudulent activity involved. And, with demand for PPE outstripping supply in the global pandemic fight, it extended a similar offer to all countries, hoping to help ensure that protective masks being sold as 3M gear are authentic.
In its statement, 3M said that it is working with law enforcement to address any illegal activity related to its products and the COVID-19 outbreak. In its response to the DPA invocation, the company said it was continuing "to act on reports of price gouging and unauthorized reselling related to 3M respirators."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 3M has boosted its N95 mask production capacity globally. It aims to be producing them at a rate of 200 million per month within the next 12 months, up from 50 million per month in January.