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Members: Insight and Tips to Navigate Wide-Spread Glove Shortages

If you need gloves for your practice, ISDS members are invited to participate in a bulk-buy program through Independent Dental Solutions and Midway Dental, to ensure you have sufficient stock in the coming months and can avoid being at the mercy of price fluctuations in the future. Orders will be accepted between 11/18-12/11/2020.
Insight and Tips to Navigate Wide-Spread Glove Shortages  Jordan Herbert, COO, Independent Dental Solutions  

Recently, Top Glove, the world’s largest glove manufacturer, announced delays up to  four weeks following a massive COVID-19 outbreak affecting more than 2,000 of their workforce that  forced them to temporarily stop production. This interruption worsened an already strained supply  chain as Malaysian manufacturers produce nearly 70% of the world’s gloves, with Top Glove leading the  pack. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Top Glove reported their orders had risen to more than double  their production capacity.  

This year, the pandemic has significantly impacted the PPE supply chain, causing product shortages, rising prices and shipping delays on many items from masks and disinfectants to gloves, due to limited resources and unprecedented rise in demand. At the beginning of the year, the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) projected rubber gloves sales would reach 287 billion pieces in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19, worldwide demand is projected to be more than double that and is expected to continue to increase in 2021 as well. The glove shortage has many concerned because while masks are considered the first line of defense against COVID-19, gloves are necessary for many industries to operate safely.  

PPE manufacturers have tried to manage the increase in demand by limiting order sizes and allocating a percentage of stock to distributors, but orders continue to outpace production. Currently, the United States does not have any domestic glove manufacturers because of a lack of access to the raw materials needed, which puts America at a disadvantage because many Asian governments continue to withhold PPE exports until their country’s needs are met. Raw material shortages, especially Nitrile raw material (NBR) also pose significant challenges for manufacturers, causing material allocations to be implemented and production to become increasingly expensive. As a result, retail pricing on gloves has gone up 300% and continues to climb.  

 
Manufacturers continue to evaluate ways to increase production, utilize the materials that are available  and bring down costs. Many have begun producing more latex and vinyl gloves instead of nitrile ones. Glove thickness has changed, because it slows the manufacturing process and requires more raw  material to create. Exam-grade glove production has also declined, as they take longer to test, process  and ship. Unlike how manufacturers were able to address mask and hand sanitizer shortages earlier in  the year, with gloves it’s not as simple. Setting up new production lines are extremely complex and can  take up to a year and a half to set up.  

Glove shortages and price fluctuations are not expected to stabilize any time soon. Industries that require gloves will need to be more proactive and flexible with the style and thickness of the gloves they  utilize and may want to consider:  

- Substitutions made with new hybrid and/or nonstandard glove materials
- Evaluating your workflow and aligning glove use and type with each task 
- Using latex, vinyl, chloroprene, polyethylene or a vinyl/nitrile blend instead of nitrile gloves when possible 
- Using industrial-grade versions instead of exam-grade gloves when possible - Extending the life of exam-grade gloves – For example, try covering an exam-grade glove with an  industrial, low cost glove and dispose of the industrial version more frequently while continuing  to use the same exam glove  

If you need gloves for your practice, ISDS members are invited to participate in a bulk-buy program through Independent Dental Solutions and Midway Dental, to ensure you have sufficient stock in the coming months and can avoid being at the mercy of price fluctuations in the future. Orders will be accepted between 11/18-12/11/2020. The price per box will be between $10-15 - the final price will depend on the total volume of gloves purchased by the group. We strongly recommend ordering and maintaining a PPE inventory that will sustain your practice for a few months. To place a glove order visit: https://independent-ds.com/ppe-and-bulk-buy-program/.  If you have questions about the program or require additional assistance, please contact info@indident.org.

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