Providers debate Chinese products

Saturday, February 28, 2009

VANCOUVER, Wash.--Provider Weston Headley likes his CPAPs to have the proverbial “Made in the U.S.A.” label. So much so, that in December, he announced he would not sell CPAP products manufactured in China.

“We have seen patients pay cash for questionable brands only to have it fall to pieces after three to six months,” said Headley, CEO of “And, to the degree that there’s been problems for daily household items from China, we’re concerned with health issues. It’s not worth the risk.”

Chinese manufacturers found themselves under the microscope in 2008, with millions of toys recalled for containing lead and a tainted milk scandal.

Chinese goods are often associated with poor quality, at least for cheaper priced products, said Simon Johnson, director, product management, for ResMed.

“You can get very good quality products from China, but you will often pay a higher price,” said Johnson. “Outside of China, we tend to have more control over quality.”

Still, just because a CPAP is manufactured overseas doesn’t mean it’s a bad product, says provider Joe Guilford.

“There’s a need for some of those machines,” said Guilford, owner of “They’re inexpensive and good quality.”

Provider Johnny Goodman likes to offer a variety of CPAPs. His warehouse is stocked with products from China, Mexico, Australia and Europe.

“Manufacturers are doing what they can to reduce costs,” said Goodman, general manager of  U.S. Expediters in Houston, the parent of “We see nothing wrong with manufacturers choosing to make products where they like.”

As reimbursement pressures like the 9.5% cut squeeze providers, it is likely manufacturers will offer more value-priced products. In July, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based Drive Medical rolled out its first CPAP, the Celestia, which is made in Taiwan.

“All the U.S. standards need to be met,” said Randy Rosen, vice president of the respiratory products division. “We don’t bring in anything that hasn’t been tested to the extreme. We make sure it works correctly and we use certified factories.”