Price increases for N95 respirators in February 2020 exhibited substantial differences between manufacturers

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators in the US. Leading data and analytics company GlobalData estimates that sales of N95 respirators in US healthcare facilities more than doubled between December 2019 and January 2020 to surpass 50 million. Growth of this market then continued in February 2020 with approximately 77 million being sold.

Alison Casey, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The current shortage of N95 respirators has led to price increases as healthcare institutions desperately try to obtain this essential piece of PPE. Prices for market leaders such as 3M Co experienced a fairly moderate increase between January 2020 and February 2020, given the circumstances. Conversely, the average cost of devices manufactured by other companies such as Alpha ProTech Inc and Owens & Minor increased much more dramatically.”

The vast majority of N95 respirators sales occur via third party distributors, or vendors, meaning that the price for these devices is often determined further down the supply chain, rather than by the underlying manufacturer. In 2019, GlobalData estimates that just 11.1% of N95 respirator sales to US healthcare institutions occurred directly from manufacturers.

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