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Henry Schein rations face masks, other products as virus hits supply chain

Melville-based Henry Schein Inc. said it is rationing

Melville-based Henry Schein Inc. said it is rationing face masks and other personal protection products in response to the spread of the new coronavirus. Credit: Barry Sloan

Henry Schein Inc., a supplier of products to the offices of dentists and physicians worldwide, is rationing face masks and other personal protection products in response to the spread of the new coronavirus. 

In a letter to its customers, the Melville company said that the health care products industry is facing increased demand for goods manufactured in Asia. Those include gowns, gloves, goggles and face shields as well as cleaning, diagnostic, surgical and wound care products.

"We are making every effort to procure as much product as possible, but sourcing realities limit our ability to offer customers the quantities requested," according to the letter dated Feb. 28.  "We don’t expect this situation to change in the near term, and the risk is increasing that we may periodically run out of certain restricted items in the weeks ahead."

The company said it is accepting orders only from existing customers for items on its restricted list and shipping those products only to health care providers and other institutions such as schools, government entities and workplace health clinics.

Personal protective equipment will not be shipped to pharmacies, exporters, individuals and unauthorized resellers, even in limited quantities, the company said.

The new coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan City, China, in December.

In its annual report, Henry Schein said that several of its businesses in China "were forced to close as a result of the coronavirus" and the virus "could have a material impact" on the company's financial results along with economic activity worldwide.

The company, which began as a neighborhood pharmacy in Queens, posted 2019 revenue of $10 billion, continuing its status as Long Island's largest public company.

Shares of Henry Schein rose $1.98 or  3.25%  on Monday to close at $62.92, as the major U.S. stock indexes rallied after last week's sell-off.

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