Advocate Aurora Health, other health systems invest in personal protective equipment manufacturer
Advocate Aurora Health has joined 14 other health systems and a healthcare improvement company in buying a minority stake in the nation’s largest manufacturer of face masks, part of an effort to build a domestic supply chain for medical products in response to COVID-19.
Advocate Aurora partnered with Premier, headquartered in North Carolina, to buy a stake in Texas-based Prestige Ameritech, which produces N95 respirators and surgical masks.
Under the agreement, Advocate Aurora will commit to buying masks from the company for up to six years, with a three-year renewal option.
“Not only does that secure a U.S. supply, it also secures an opportunity for six years of expansion of that supply,” Rick Klein, Advocate Aurora Health chief business development officer, told reporters Tuesday.
He compared the deal to joining Civica Rx, a not-for-profit pharmaceutical company focused on manufacturing and sourcing drugs in short supply.
Around 80 percent of personal protective equipment products come from China and Southeast Asia, Klein said. That posed a challenge earlier this year when nations closed borders in response to the pandemic and prevented access to supplies, leading to widespread shortages.
The costs of N95 respirators increased to more than $5, after costing less than 50 cents before the pandemic, Klein said.
Klein said being part of the effort with other health systems allows them to engineer better masks based on feedback from their staff.
Financial terms of the agreement aren’t being disclosed. Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health and Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, which has locations in Illinois, were among the health systems participating in the initiative.
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