July 31, 2020 / 1:34 PM / 7 days ago

Philips denies profiteering on ventilators

FILE PHOTO: Dutch technology company Philips' logo is seen at company headquarters in Amsterdam, Netherlands, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch healthcare equipment company Philips (PHG.AS) did not raise the price of its ventilators to maximise profit from sales during the coronavirus crisis, it said on Friday in response to a U.S. Congress report.

The U.S. Congress House Subcommitte on Economic and Consumer policy had said earlier in the day that the White House had overpaid Philips by at least $500 million in a deal struck during the first peak of coronavirus infections.

The committee said the government had agreed to pay almost five times the price for hospital ventilators compared with its previous deal for similar equipment from Philips.

“I would like to make clear that on no occasion has Philips raised prices to benefit from the crisis situation,” Chief Executive Frans van Houten said in a statement.

The committee also said that the White House had ignored Philips’ failure to deliver the thousands of ventilators it had promised by mid-2019 under the earlier agreement.

“Had the Trump administration held Philips to the terms of the Obama-era contract, the country would have had 10,000 ventilators that it needed when the coronavirus crisis struck”, the committee said.

Philips in April said its deal with the White House would enable it to deliver the U.S. government 43,000 hospital ventilators, essential for the treatment of patients struggling with COVID-19, throughout the rest of the year for a total sum of $647 million (492.5 million pounds).

Philips could not be reached for further comment.

Reporting by Toby Sterling and Bart Meijer; Editing by David Evans and David Goodman

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