Care New England discovers some of its masks are counterfeit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Care New England, one of the region’s largest healthcare groups, says it unintentionally bought counterfeit medical masks.

The health system says the shipment came from a reliable vendor, and the masks look just like the N95 respirators manufactured by Taiwan-based Makrite.

“They look authentic,” said Robin Neale, Care New England’s Vice President of Quality, Clinical Effectiveness, and Infection Prevention. “The boxes look authentic, the respirator looks authentic.”

But when Care New England health care workers tried on the masks, something didn’t seem quite right.

“This particular respirator did have a higher than usual fail rate,” Neale said. “But it’s not unusual for a person – we could try five different respirators and it might fit one person and not another.”

Staff checked the lot number, and Makright told them it’s not actually their product, but counterfeit. The face masks were fake masks.

The union that represents many of Care New England’s health care workers is concerned.

“It is unfortunate that people would try to be profiteering during a global pandemic, and putting additional lives at risk, potentially,” said Ray Sullivan of the United Nurses & Allied Professionals. “That’s a travesty.”

Care New England told staff to throw out any Makright products, because they don’t know which ones are counterfeit, and giving them alternative masks that are proven to keep them safe.

“That’s the most disturbing of it all, that somebody would try to take advantage and try to make money selling something that might not protect a healthcare worker,” Neale said. “That’s just egregious. It’s awful that somebody would try to do that to people who in my opinion are heroes on the front line caring for sick people.

Care New England says it will continue to diligently monitor shipments to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The union suggests that more PPE should come from local sources.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News, Rhode Island