The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform said in a July 31 report that the Trump administration has mishandled a contract with Philips Respironics Inc., of Murrysville, Pa., and has cost the American taxpayer roughly $500 million in the process. The report stated that Philips Respironics had entered an agreement with the Obama administration in 2014 that would have provided 10,000 ventilators for use in pandemics, but that development of the ventilators had been delayed. The Obama administration provided the company with an extension that would nonetheless have required fulfillment of all 10,000 units by November 2019, although the delays on the company’s part are said to have continued through the first two years of the Trump presidency. The current administration gave Philips until June 2021 to fulfill the terms of the agreement, then renegotiated the contract to provide an alternative to the Trilogy Evo Universal ventilators with Trilogy EV300 ventilators. According to the document, the U.S. taxpayer paid $15,000 each for the EV300 units, even though they were “functionally identical” to the units described in the contract negotiated in 2014, and the committee alleged that the Trump administration’s failure to negotiate more aggressively cost the taxpayer $500 million. Parent company Royal Philips, of Amsterdam, posted a July 31 release stating that the list price for the bundled ventilator pack is more than $21,000, and that the price charged to the government of $15,000 “reflects a discount while taking into account part of the higher costs for the expedited delivery schedule.” Philips said the original 2014 contract was for development and manufacture of a new ventilator, adding that the ventilator is being produced and delivered “in line with the agreed delivery schedule.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in a July 31 statement that the so-called Shark Tank program for COVID-19 diagnostic test methods is “doing in months what usually takes three to seven years” in terms of development of novel testing methods. Alexander said the program is advancing new testing technologies with the objective of providing tests that “can deliver results in minutes, instead of waiting days for a laboratory to send a test result.”

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