Why There Aren't Enough Ventilators (No, It's Not Trump's Fault)
A tale of good ol' American capitalism at work.
Thirteen years ago, a group of U.S. public health officials came up with a plan to address what they regarded as one of the medical system’s crucial vulnerabilities: a shortage of inexpensive portable ventilators. Money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway. And then things suddenly veered off course.
In May 2012, Covidien, a large medical device manufacturer, bought Newport Medical Instruments, the company that was awarded the contract and successfully delivered three working prototype units to the government. After the takeover, developing inexpensive portable ventilators no longer seemed like a top priority. Covidien demanded additional funding and a higher sales price for the ventilators.
Government officials and executives at rival ventilator companies said they suspected that Covidien had acquired Newport to prevent it from building a cheaper product that would undermine Covidien’s profits from its existing ventilator business.