What to ask a potential supplier

Roles are shifting and you may be asked to procure PPE, even though you don't have a sourcing background... So how do you suss out the fraud?

Even buyers are facing hardship in sourcing standard medical items. With large distributors like Cardinal Health on backlog, it is becoming increasingly critical for individual organizations to source their own PPE.

To ensure you are equipped with information going into the process, here is a list of critical questions to ask a potential supplier.

1. How are you importing your masks?

Standard freight carriers (UPS/FedEx/etc.) are constantly bumping small parcel shipments coming in from Asia. While passenger planes typically carry small parcel shipments, these planes are not flying as frequently - forcing millions of packages to find room on standard carriers. It is important to ask this question to understand potential delays.

To provide an example - WorkFlow had 1,000,000 masks booked on a flight from China to the United States via FedEx. This was BOOKED. Yet, due to carrier changes, restrictions, and government regulations, our shipment was bumped, allowing only 360,000 units to fly. Fortunately, WorkFlow has increased our capacity and we are now chartering private planes to ensure freight delays are limited.

2. Who is manufacturing the N95 masks?

Here is the CDC's list of NIOSH-Approved N95 mask manufacturers. Note that Makrite, one of the few N95 manufacturers, shared an official notice that all of their masks are for the Chinese Government only. This means that if there are Makrite masks in the USA, odds are they are fraud or in the USA illegally.

3. Are the masks really FDA-Approved?

It is imperative you perform your own due diligence when suppliers provide “FDA registration numbers.” There are two critical components: the owner/operator FDA number and the device listing number. 

  • Search the FDA database with the supplier-provided owner/operator FDA number.
  • Once you have the manufacturer information input, it will show a list of all of their registered devices.
  • Confirm that the device you are procuring is listed on the manufacturer’s registered devices . 

4. What types of masks are being sold as counterfeit?

Here you can see the guidelines and what types of masks are fake/counterfeit. 

This is just a short list of suggestions to ensure you are the hero.