Millions of second-hand or used nitrile gloves came into the US as scammers took advantage of demand during the pandemic: CNN

·3 min read
Millions of second-hand or used nitrile gloves came into the US as scammers took advantage of demand during the pandemic: CNN
Close-up of a chemist putting on gloves in pharmacy.
Close-up of a chemist putting on gloves in pharmacy. Luis Alvarez/Getty Images
  • Scammers are washing and repackaging used medical gloves to sell to the US, CNN reported.

  • Tens of millions of counterfeit and already used nitrile gloves came to the US during the pandemic.

  • It's not clear if any ever actually made their way to be used in medical settings.

A months-long CNN investigation found tens of millions of counterfeit and already used nitrile gloves made their way into the US during the pandemic as scammers took advantage of high demand.

CNN reported that it's unclear if these gloves ended up being used in a medical setting or caused harm to providers and patients.

A US company warned the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection that they received shipments of visibly soiled gloves from a company in Thailand in February and March of this year, CNN reported.

Tarek Kirschen, a Miami-based businessman, told the outlet he ordered $2 million worth of gloves from Paddy the Room, a Thai-based company.

"Some of them were dirty. Some of them had bloodstains. Some of them had markers on them with dates from two years ago... I couldn't believe my eyes," Kirschen told CNN.

Kirschen said he refunded clients that bought them, threw the gloves in a landfill, and informed the FDA. He said none of the gloves he ordered ended up in a medical setting.

CNN, however, found that US distributors received 200 million gloves from Paddy the Room, though it's unclear where they ended up.

The stream of second-hand gloves made its way into the country after the FDA temporarily eased the import requirement for personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic.

The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society reported in March 2020, that the FDA reduced the amount of information needed for certain necessary PPE that was in high demand at the start of the pandemic so it could be shipped in faster.

The FDA told CNN that companies could only ship in gloves that don't create "undue risk" under the relaxed rules, but the outlet found that there were few physical checks made on gloves entering through the ports.

CNN reported that authorities in Thailand and the US have launched investigations into the faulty PPE. The FDA sent a message to its port staff in August to detain shipments from Paddy the Room, at least five months after they were informed about the contaminated gloves, the outlet reported.

This isn't the only incident of sub-par PPE and scams during the pandemic. In May 2020, hundreds of thousands of imported masks that were on their way to children's hospitals were seized because they failed to meet safety regulations for blocking out virus particles. In August 2020, the Justice Department also shut down an ISIS-affiliated website that was selling fake N95 masks and other PPE.

In a statement to Insider, the FDA said it could not comment on any ongoing investigations and it's "committed to taking action against violative or fraudulent medical products in order to protect health care personnel and public health."

"Medical gloves are a critical resource, particularly during the pandemic. The FDA has taken - and continues to take - a number of steps to find and stop those selling unapproved products by leveraging our experience investigating, examining, and reviewing medical products, both at the border and within domestic commerce, to help ensure the safety of our national supply chain," an FDA spokesperson said

DHS and CBP did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider