ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — A company entered into a $10.2 million federal contract to produce COVID-19 plastic test tubes, but health officials say the item is unusable.
Arkansas received 73,500 of the test tubes. The item was received each week over a period of a few months, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The state did not lose any money and the media supplies are being replaced by FEMA.
The nouveau company was awarded federal contracts for testing supplies in support of COVID-19 response.
The Florida-based company Fillakit LLC started business in early May 2020 — about 46 days later the company got into trouble because of creating a product that didn’t work.
There is a $10.2M contract for COVID-19 testing media supplies. This contract is funded by FEMA and it’s for the purchase of testing supplies. Tthe order has been fulfilled, with a completion date expected by July 6, 2020.
Another contract for $343,000, which was paid on May 20, 2020, by FEMA and fulfilled by the company on June 21, 2020, was for 450,000 COVID-19 testing swabs.
FEMA has recommended the test tube product “not be used at this time,” according to a statement sent to KNWA/FOX24:
“FEMA remains committed to providing critically needed testing supplies in a timely manner to our state and local partners in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are aware of the issues raised by some states that received Fillakit products. FEMA and its partners at the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are currently analyzing the quality of the media in question. Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend this media not be used at this time.”
FILLAKIT, LLC OWNER PAUL WEXLER
The Federal Trade Commission banned Wexler from providing debt- and mortgage-relief services and from making robocalls and prohibited from calling consumers on the Do Not Call list in 2012. A judgment was entered against Wexler for $2.7 million. Wexler did business at Financial Freedom Credit Counseling, and Southeast Trust, LLC out of Florida.
Since the inception of the pandemic, more than 300 new federal contractors have been providing COVID-19 related supplies — many are first-time vendors.
FEMA Region 6, Arkansas critical supplies delivered during the pandemic:
- 259,947 N95 respirators
- 514,682 gloves
- 112,762 face shields
- 651,434 surgical masks
- As of May 21, FEMA has obligated $402,426 in federal support to Arkansas
- As of May 21, one Battelle N95 decontamination unit is located in Little Rock