Posted by : Irvin Jackson
Exposure to foam particles in a Philips sleep apnea machine caused cancer and urinary tract infections, according to a lawsuit recently filed by a former DreamStation CPAP user.
The complaint (PDF) was brought by Mario Olivares last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, indicating Koninklijke Philips and its U.S. subsidiaries sold defectively designed sleep apnea machines for years, knowing that the sound abatement foam inside the devices would carry serious health risks for users.
A Philips CPAP recall was first issued in June 2021, affecting millions of sleep apnea machines that contained a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam, which was intended to reduce noise and vibrations while the device was used. However, it is now known that the PE-PUR foam breaks down as the machine is used, releasing toxic chemicals and debris directly into the mouth, nose and lungs.
Breathing the foam particles has been linked to reports of cancers, lung damage and severe respiratory injuries, according to claims presented in hundreds of Philips CPAP lawsuits now being pursued by former users.
Learn More About Philips CPAP Recall lawsuits
Millions of recalled Philips DreamStation, CPAP, BiPAP and ventilator machines may release toxic foam particles and chemicals into the air pathway.
Olivares indicates he was prescribed a DreamStation CPAP device in June 2020. The lawsuit claims regular use of the sleep apnea machine caused him to be exposed to toxic and harmful substances, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which led to urinary tract infections, kidney cancer and bladder cancer.
The DreamStation CPAP lawsuit filed by Olivares claims the injuries would not have occurred if not for the defective nature of the sleep apnea machine.
Philips knew of the risk that incorporating PE-PUR foam in the air pathway of the subject device could result in users ingesting or inhaling toxic and carcinogenic particulates and VOC gas emissions, the lawsuit states. Philips should have known of the risk that degraded PE-PUR foam could produce toxic and carcinogenic particulates and VOC gas emissions, and that incorporating PE-PUR foam in the air pathway of the recalled devices could expose users to the risk of ingesting or inhaling toxic and carcinogenic particulates and VOC gas emissions.
Olivares’s claim is backed up by an FDA inspection report released late last year, which determined Philips knew about the problem with the degrading sound abatement foam since at least 2015. Emails exchanged with the foam supplier discussed the risks posed by the devices, but no investigation was initiated or corrective actions were taken until the massive recall was announced in June 2021.
The complaint will be centralized with other product liability lawsuits and class action lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, which are currently consolidated before Senior U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti in the Western District of Pennsylvania for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
In the coming years, it is expected that Judge Conti will establish a bellwether program where small groups of representative CPAP lawsuits will be prepared for early trial dates, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the claims.
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