Unsealed Evidence Suggests Philips Knew of CPAP Problems Well Before Recall
BNN Bloomberg reports that Philips knew about the problems with its disintegrating polyurethane foam inside CPAP machines for years before issuing a recall of the product. The news outlet notes that emails recently unsealed during the ongoing CPAP litigation indicate that the healthcare technology company was made aware of issues with the foam in as early as April 2018. It wasn’t until June 2021 that Philips issued a safety recall on the product concerning its sound-abating PE-PUR foam. At least 5 million BiPAP and CPAP sleep apnea machines as well as certain ventilator models were recalled from the U.S. market in a Class I recall, the most serious type of recall. By March 2022—a full 9 months after the recall—Philips had only shipped about 650,000 replacement devices to customers in the U.S.
The recall stems from the degradation of a particular polyurethane-based foam used within the breathing machines to quiet sound vibrations when in use. This substance deteriorates over time, and when it does, it may release toxic chemicals into the machine’s air path and into the patient’s airways. These chemicals may lead to a wide range of health issues, including multiple forms of cancer. Many people who have used their CPAP machines daily for long periods have reported serious adverse health issues such as lung, kidney or liver issues and/or cancer.
Following the June 2021 recall, many affected consumers have filed lawsuits in the CPAP multi-district litigation. Centralized in the Western District of Pennsylvania, several hundred lawsuits against Philips claim that Philips knew of the health risks associated with PE-PUR foam but did not warn consumers.
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