In a recent press release, a local New Mexico reporter alleges that the state government ordered N-95 medical grade respirator masks from Bionet in late March and were instead delivered “counterfeit” KN-95 masks on April 4th 2020. Upon review of the story released by the local reporter much of the evidence presented is altered and the events which occurred are misrepresented or taken out of context according to Bionet.
SANTA FE, NM / ACCESSWIRE / Sepetember 3, 2020 / When the relationship began between Bionet and the state in late March 2020, the state did originally request N-95 masks along with PPE items from Bionet and other approved vendors. Bionet discovered these masks were in extreme global demand and simply not available through any existing supply chain. When this was made clear to the state, the alternative became KN-95 masks, which were also difficult to find. Based upon immediate availability in the USA, the original masks ordered by the state were the available KN-95 masks, not the unavailable N-95 masks as represented by the slanderous press release. “This initial order of KN-95 masks was a collaborative and transparent effort between Bionet and the state agencies involved.”
One of the exhibits posted on the reporter’s website is falsely shown as evidence that the initial April 4th delivery was supposed to be N-95 masks, not the KN-95 masks which were ordered and delivered on time according to actual records. The reporter displays a government email requesting N-95 masks, but omits the date and who it was addressed to. The email displayed as “evidence”, was in fact written by a state agent to address a potential new third party supplier of N-95 masks in Louisiana, introduced to the state in early April by Bionet. Records show that this written request for N-95 masks was not sent by the state to Bionet until April 5th, 2020 – the day after the KN-95 masks (ordered in late March) were delivered, inspected and purchased by the state.
Mr. Bethel explains, “These were two completely different orders from two completely different suppliers, made over a week apart, not misrepresented or “counterfeit” goods from the same order as erroneously portrayed in the local press release.”
According to Bionet, in the initial phone conversation, the KN-95 third party supplier was asking for $4.70 per mask because the cargo was readily available in Los Angeles. Because the third party supplier’s asking price was above the state’s budgeted price for KN-95 masks, Bionet facilitated a three way conversation with both the third party supplier and the state on the telephone wherein the price was negotiated down to the state’s pre budgeted price of $4.00 coming directly from the supplier to the state. The three parties agreed to this price and therefore Bionet agreed to make nothing on the transaction and pass these much needed goods directly to the state.
Mr. Bethel explained that Bionet would not make any profit on this deal because it was priced at the state limit. In a late March press release, the public had just been informed that the federal PPE reserves for the state were depleted and the state government reserves were nearly depleted. It was more important to everyone involved to get these supplies delivered despite the cost while exploring further options for the future.
A total of 112,000 KN-95 masks were delivered because 8,000 of the initial 120,000 ordered were deemed damaged during the supplier’s inspection in Los Angeles and therefore not shipped to New Mexico. This is a fact misrepresented in the local reporter’s story. The entire $448,000 paid by the state in this transaction was the amount charged by the third party supplier to Bionet with zero profit added in for Bionet. The local reporter fails to mention this important detail in his story and instead blames Bionet for delivering over-priced “counterfeit” PPE.
The KN-95 masks delivered to the state on April 4th were delivered as specified by Bionet’s supplier to the state prior to the order. An FDA/CDC issued an explanation of the difference between KN-95 masks and N-95 masks was also delivered to the state prior to the order, so the state would be fully aware of the difference between these products before the masks were shipped from Los Angeles. Yet another relevant detail omitted by the local reporter.
Based on protocols, the state requested and previewed specifications of the goods prior to every order, from every state vendor, and only chose to purchase goods based upon these specifications. Upon delivery of each order a full inspection by the NM DOH and other agencies was conducted prior to any agreement to accept each order or issue payment to the vendor delivering the order. The state retained the right to reject any order and enforced this right on a number of occasions with a number of vendors as it saw fit to do so.
Mr. Bethel explained, “We did our best to vet each supplier and the goods they offered and only chose to engage suppliers with real credentials but these companies that were reputable in other commodity markets were often brand new to PPE so you never knew if they could really perform or not until you ordered from them. Many of them didn’t perform unfortunately. Though the Los Angeles supplier was higher priced than other options they repeatedly performed as promised on every delivery. This reliability was valuable to both Bionet and the state. I feel the local news story grossly misrepresented this aspect of the government’s perspective during these critical initial weeks when little to nothing else was arriving from other suppliers.”
None of the goods that were actually delivered by Bionet were misrepresented or “counterfeit” and all of the goods purchased by the state were inspected by their experts prior to acceptance of these goods or payment made to Bionet.
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