CDC "quarantines" its own equipment

Action follows 60 Minutes investigation questioning whether protective gear for Ebola was defective

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Last Updated Aug 11, 2017 9:52 AM EDT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has "quarantined" some of its own stock-piled equipment following a 60 Minutes report that questioned whether the gear, recommended for protection against the Ebola virus, was defective.

The 60 Minutes story quoted former employees and internal company documents regarding MICROCOOL surgical gowns made by Halyard Health (formerly a division of Kimberly-Clark).  The investigation first aired in May 2016 and was re-broadcast this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on the CBS Television network.

The 60 Minutes report "Strike-through,"reported by Anderson Cooper, first aired on May 1, 2016. CBS News

Based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, 60 Minutes reported that MICROCOOL gowns were part of the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies for use in future outbreaks and emergencies. The stockpile is maintained by the CDC.

In response to an inquiry from 60 Minutes, the CDC sent the broadcast a statement saying, "The gowns are being quarantined within the SNS [Strategic National Stockpile] inventory and there are no current plans to use them." The CDC's full statement can be found here.

In April, a group of hospitals sued Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health in Los Angeles federal court over the alleged defects in the MICROCOOL gowns. After a nine-day trial, a jury found the companies liable for fraud and awarded $454 million in damages.  Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health are challenging the decision in court.

In a statement to 60 Minutes after the story was rebroadcast, Halyard Health said its gowns had passed tests conducted by the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,  proving that they meet the "highest standards" in the industry.  "We continue to stand behind the quality and efficacy of our MicroCool gowns," the statement said.  

But attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented the plaintiffs in the recent Los Angeles court case, said in response to the CDC statement, "The CDC has finally determined what we have known for years and what the federal jury determined in April -- the gowns are defective and place healthcare workers at risk for serious injury and death. You don't quarantine a product that has no problems and is safe."

Reported by Andy Court, Sarah Fitzpatrick & Evie Salomon.