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Pallone, Nadler, Schakowsky & Cicilline Call on FTC to Protect Americans from Price Gouging During COVID-19 Health Crisis

Mar 17, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, urging them to take steps to protect American consumers from price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

March 17, 2020

The Honorable Joseph J. Simons
Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Chairman Simons,

We write to express our serious concerns with reports of price gouging in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  As reported by the New York Times and others, a number of essential items have become scarce.[1]  Healthcare workers are being asked to reuse personal protective equipment—like masks and single-use gowns—because their supplies are running low.[2]  Moreover, many Americans are unable to find essential household items such as hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies in their local stores or online marketplaces.  All the while, profiteers who have cleaned the shelves of hundreds of stores are hoarding these very same supplies or charging unconscionable prices.

This misconduct places critical goods out of reach for those who need them most.  Americans who fear for their own and their loved ones’ health and safety should not be further victimized.  In light of these concerns and the urgency of this rapidly evolving health crisis, we strongly urge the Federal Trade Commission to take immediate action to protect consumers from price gouging during this declared public health emergency.  In the meantime, we will continue to pursue other means, including legislation, to assist your efforts and help consumers.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

___________________________

Jerrold Nadler
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary

___________________________

Frank Pallone, Jr.
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce

 

___________________________

David N. Cicilline
Chairman
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law

___________________________

Jan Schakowsky
Chair
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce

 

 


[1] See, e.g., Jack Nicas, He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell Them, New York Times (Mar. 14, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/technology/coronavirus-purell-wipes-amazon-sellers.html; Jessica Guynn & Kelly Tyko, Gouge Much? Purell for $149, Face Masks for $20: Coronavirus Price Hikes Are Making Everyone Mad, USA Today (Mar. 3, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/03/coronavirus-hand-sanitizer-face-masks-price-gouging-amazon-walmart-ebay/4933920002/.
[2] See, e.g., Lisa Kashinsky, Author, Massachusetts Hospitals Face Shortages of Protective Equipment in Coronavirus Outbreak, Boston Herald (Mar. 14, 2020, 5:53 PM), https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/03/14/massachusetts-hospitals-face-shortages-of-protective-equipment-in-coronavirus-outbreak/.

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