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CPAP Machine Recall Update: One Month After CPAP Recall, Philips Already Facing Lawsuits

July 21, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Within a month of announcing on June 14 a massive global recall of millions of CPAP and BiPAP machines, Dutch consumer electronics and medical equipment conglomerate Philips already is facing numerous lawsuits over the devices, with many thousands more expected to follow.

The lawsuits include at least 10 already filed in Massachusetts federal court for which the plaintiffs’ lawyers have requested class action status, the Boston Globe reported. July 15. A hearing on the class action motion has been scheduled for September. Philips’ North America affiliate is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The voluntary recall of millions of CPAP and BiPAP machines was, according to Philips, a result of the PE-PUR foam used to provide noise insulation for the devices. Philips chose to use the PE-PUR foam in its assisted-breathing machines despite it being known that the foam emits, or “gasses off”, certain toxic fumes. Further, Philips claims that it became aware of the PE-PUR foam deteriorating into small particles, and of those particles entering the devices’ airways.

Either of these factors alone could prove highly detrimental to human health, particularly when considering that CPAP and BiPAP machines are intended to be used by patients continuously for several hours every single day. The toxins contained in PE-PUR foam are associated with short-term symptoms such as headache and dizziness as well as serious long-term ailments, including a variety of cancers.

The first lawsuits filed suggest that plaintiffs and their lawyers will focus on the timing of the Philips recall, raising the familiar question of what the company knew and when.

“The central allegation is that Philips had knowledge of the defect but failed to alert the public of the serious dangers it presented,” an attorney representing one of the Massachusetts plaintiffs told The Globe.

Similar claims are made in a lawsuit reported by WRBL in Georgia. The plaintiff in that case, Fredrick Heller, was diagnosed with lung cancer after using a now-recalled Philips device for years. He blames the PE-PUR foam for his cancer.

“In the Lawsuit, we allege that Mr. Heller’s lung cancer was caused by his prolonged use of one of Philips recalled devices that’s intended for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea,” said an attorney for Heller, according to WRBL.

Heller’s attorneys also questioned the timing of Philips’ voluntary recall.

“Philips Respironics has not disclosed when it first received reports from users of its Sleep & Respiratory Care devices of the presence of black debris or particles within the airpath circuit. But given how long the devices have been on the market, it’s unlikely that the company only recently learned of these issues,” they said. “Meanwhile, Philips continued to rake in profits from its CPAP and BiPAP machines.”

One of the federal Massachusetts-based lawsuits goes a step further, accusing Philips of timing its recall in order to maximize profits, capitalizing on its massive dominance in the CPAP market, of which it controls approximately two-thirds.

“Philips timed its recall…to coincide with the launch of its next generation of products,” alleges the lawsuit, as quoted by The Globe. This next generation, coincidentally, utilizes a supposedly safer insulation foam. “Thus, the only safe option that Philips offers to its customers…is to purchase Philips’s new model, thus profiting Philips further.”

With millions of devices recalled, these initial lawsuits are certain to be only the beginning.

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest updates on Philips CPAP litigation!

Sources:

Murphy, Sean P. (15 July 2021). After recalling millions of sleep apnea machines, Philips sued by consumers. Boston Globe

Philips News Center. (14 June 2021). Philips issues recall notification to mitigate potential health risks related to the sound abatement foam component in certain sleep and respiratory care devices

Ealy, Maxsim. (8 July 2021). Medical device company Philips faces lawsuit over recently recalled devices. WRBL

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article. 

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