Philips DreamStation CPAP Foam Caused Pancreatic Cancer, Lawsuit Alleges

Lawsuit alleges ingesting and inhaling debris from toxic sound abatement foam used in recalled CPAP machine caused cancer diagnosis.

An Indiana man indicates in a recently filed lawsuit that use of a Philips DreamStation CPAP machine caused pancreatic cancer, after defective sound abatement foam in the device deteriorated and released toxic particles and debris into the sleep apnea machine’s air pathways.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Alen Hecht and his wife, Jackie, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on October 14, naming Koninkelijke Philips and its North American subsidiaries as the defendants, alleging that the companies sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous breathing machine.

A Philips DreamStation CPAP recall was announced earlier this year, affecting millions of CPAP, BiPAP and mechanical ventilator devices that contained a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam, which the manufacturer now warns can break down and release particles and gases which may be toxic and cause adverse health effects.

According to Hecht’s lawsuit, he was prescribed a Philips DreamStation CPAP device for the treatment of his obstructive sleep apnea, indicating that he used the device for several years on a daily basis. In September 2015, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, indicating that he was unaware of the potential link between his cancer and CPAP machine until the recall was announced in June 2021.

“Plaintiff’s use of the subject device caused or significantly contributed to his development and progression of pancreatic cancer, which has permanently changed his life,” the lawsuit states. “By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff has had to undergo significant treatment, will be required to undergo significant treatment in the future, and now requires constant and continuous medical monitoring and treatment due to the defective nature of the subject device and/or Defendants’ wrongful conduct.”

Lab analysis has found the degraded CPAP foam may release a number of harmful chemicals, including toluene diamine, toluene diisocyanate and diethylene glycol. In addition, several Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) have been identified from testing.

Hecht’s claim now joins a growing number of similar Philips DreamStation CPAP lawsuits being pursued in courts nationwide, many including allegations that users have been diagnosed with various types of respiratory injury and cancer following exposure to the chemicals from degraded PE-PUR foam.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal Philips CPAP class action lawsuits consolidated before one judge in Western Pennsylvania for pretrial proceedings.

Such consolidation is common in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims have been presented by former users of the same product, alleging similar injuries. However, the panel only consolidated class action lawsuits, and left it unclear whether individual lawsuit claims, like Hecht’s, would be added to the multidistrict litigation in the future.

Centralizing the DreamStation CPAP claims is expected to help avoid duplicative discovery, prevent contradictory rulings from different judges, and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses, and the courts. However, if the manufacturer fails to reach settlement with owners of recalled CPAP machines, each individual case may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.

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