The special focused on personal protective equipment (PPE) that was being stockpiled by the CDC for use against future outbreaks or public health emergencies, such as treating an influx of Ebola patients during an outbreak. The 60 Minutes investigative team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents regarding MicroCool gowns that are part of the US Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The SNS, according to the CDC, is the “nation’s largest supply of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.”
The filing of the Freedom of Information Act request is especially prudent as a group of hospitals were recently awarded $454 million in damages from PPE manufacturers Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health (formerly a division of Kimberly-Clark) after a jury found they were liable for fraud and defects within the MicroCool gowns. The 60 Minutes team reached out to Halyard. Their chief operating officer Chris Lowery responded that, “We get less than one complaint for every million gowns sold," Lowery said. "And...we've never received even one report of a healthcare professional contracting an infection as a result of a flaw in our product.” Halyard and Kimberly-Clark are reportedly challenging the court’s decision.
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