Philips Settles for $1.1 Billion Over Sleep Apnea Device Recall Linked to Cancer Risks

Dutch conglomerate Philips has concluded a $1.1 billion deal to resolve claims in the United States related to the recall of more than 1 million breathing machines. These devices, also known as sleep apnea devices, were recalled in 2021 due to concerns that they posed a potential cancer risk.

Philips had recalled millions of its CPAP machines from the market after concerns arose that components used in the device, especially the foam, could enter the airways and potentially cause cancer. The recall occurred in 2021, and further sales of the devices were halted. The money from the deal will cover injury claims for 58,000 people, earmarking $1.075 billion for a personal injury settlement and $25 million for medical monitoring.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs stated,

“Ultimately, these combined agreements accomplish what we sought to achieve when this litigation began — holding Philips accountable by obtaining care for those with physical injuries and compensation for those needing new respiratory devices.”

CPAP machines, an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure machines, are used to treat sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder where a person’s breathing is obstructed during sleep. This can be caused by the throat muscles obstructing the airways, brain disorders, or unknown causes. CPAP machines help restore the air supply via a mask and keep the airways open.

An estimated 33 million Americans use CPAP machines to treat the symptoms of sleep apnea, according to figures released by the National Council on Aging. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to several complications, including higher risks of developing diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases.

Some customers alleged that Philips’ DreamStation machines, which were then the brand leader, had been expelling gas and bits of foam into their lungs. Philips made no admission of fault in its products and stated that most of the claims were related to “alleged technical malfunctions” that did not involve any serious injury or death. However, Chief Executive Roy Jakobs said in a statement on Monday that the company is genuinely concerned with any discomfort the patients may have experienced.

Philips is facing a number of litigations in the US and is effectively out of the sleep machines and ventilators market, with its presence limited to selling replacement parts and servicing the machines that already exist in hospitals and patients’ homes. Earlier this year, Philips agreed to a decree requiring it to halt the sale of its devices in the US until certain conditions are met. It also agreed to repair and replace the more than 1 million breathing machines currently used by patients in the US.

What can consumers do?

The settlement, which must be approved by a judge, entitles users to a $100 award if they return their recalled device by August 9, 2024 — the claim deadline. Users who believe their device is defective should act soon to verify this if they haven’t already, and Philips’ recall page offers ways to check serial numbers and register a product. A dedicated website is available which accepts claims for the financial-loss settlement. Payments tied to the settlement are expected to be completed by 2025.

The news has been welcomed in the share markets, and Royal Philips NV shares soared nearly 30 percent in Amsterdam since the settlement amount is much less than what was expected.

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Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair: With a decade of news writing across various media platforms, Manoj is a seasoned professional. His dual role as an English teacher underscores his command over communication. He adeptly covers Politics, Technology, Crypto, and more, reflecting a broad and insightful perspective that engages and informs diverse audiences.

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