In 2021, Philips recalled more than 15 million CPAP machines as a result of health risks associated with the degradation of the foam used in these devices to treat sleep apnea. Several serious health conditions, including cancer and lung and heart damage, have been linked to the defect in Philips machines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that Philips was aware of problems with its CPAP machines for years, but failed to take action. The FDA’s failure ro warn consumers may have led to many more consumers being seriously and unnecessarily harmed.

Do Philips CPAP Devices Cause Serious Injuries?

The FDA’s recall of certain CPAP machines stated that the devices can cause injuries which may be permanent and life threatening. The health risks posed by Philips machines stem from the polyester- based polyurethane sound abatement foam which helps control the noise produced by the machines. The foam in these devices may either degrade causing the user to inhale dangerous particles, or release chemicals into the air causing the user to inhale the particles. In either case, the CPAP user may swallow or inhale toxic and carcinogenic materials. While users may not be immediately aware that they have inhaled these dangerous particles or emissions, certain symptoms, such as nausea, respiratory problems and irritation to the eyes, nose and mouth, may indicate contact with toxic materials and should be addressed immediately. In addition, other symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, and pain, may indicate a more serious health concern. Foam degradation has been associated with:

  • Lung cancer
  • Nasal cancer
  • Cancers of the respiratory system
  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Testicular cancer

In addition to cancer, defective CPAP machines have also been linked to other types of conditions including:

  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Lung disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver damage
  • Heart damage
  • Immune disorders

Did Philips Know that its Devices Could Cause Life-Threatening Injuries?

An investigation by the FDA produced internal Philips emails indicating that Philips had knowledge of foam degradation issues as far back as 2015. The emails between Philips and foam manufacturers reveal some awareness of these risks for years. According to the FDA, there were at least fourteen reports or incidents dated from April 2016 to January 2021 where Philips was aware that there were serious issues related to the foam in its CPAP machines before a recall was issued in June 2021. The company failed to institute any change in its design or alert consumers when safety risks were reported.

Did Philips Act Negligently?

If Philips knew about the potential for foam degradation, and failed to take corrective action while millions of patients continued to use its machines, it may have acted negligently. In addition, failing to timely warn customers and initiate a recall when it first learned of health risks may indicate that Philips acted negligently. Hundreds of pending lawsuits against Philips have made such claims. If Philips is found to have known of these dangers, as indicated by the FDA report, then many consumers were put at risk of developing serious conditions and injuries while using CPAP machines to treat sleep apnea.