Lawsuit Alleges Pancreatic Cancer Caused by Philips DreamStation Sleep Apnea Machine

Millions of Philips DreamStation sleep apnea machines were recalled last year, due to toxic sound abatement foam that released cancer-causing particles into the air pathways

In a recently filed product liability lawsuit, a Missouri man alleges he developed pancreatic cancer from a Philips DreamStation, indicating that he was exposed to toxic chemicals and debris from the deteriorating sound abatement foam inside the sleep apnea machine.

The complaint (PDF) was brought by John Wagner in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on April 18, joining other former users of the now recalled sleep apnea machines now pursuing damages from Koninklijke Philips and its U.S. subsidiaries.

Philips announced a sleep apnea machine recall in June 2021, impacting millions of DreamStation, CPAP, BiPAP and mechanical ventilators that contained a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam, which has been found to degrade and break down, releasing toxic chemicals and debris directly into the machine’s air pathways.

Exposure to the sleep apnea machine foam has already been linked to a variety of long-term side effects, including respiratory injuries, lung damage and several different types of cancer, and thousands of former users are now pursuing a Philips DreamStation lawsuit against the company.

Wagner indicates he was prescribed use of the Philips DreamStation for treatment of his sleep apnea in 2017, and used it on a daily basis. However, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2021, which he directly links to breathing particles and debris released by the sleep apnea machine’s sound abatement foam.

“Plaintiff’s use of the subject device caused the development and progression of his pancreatic cancer,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff’s development and progression of his pancreatic cancer, as a result of his use of the subject device, necessitated treatment resulting in adverse effects, limitations, and sequelae, as well as the need for continuous future medical care and treatment.”

According to an FDA inspection report released late last year, Philips knew about the problem with the degrading sound abatement foam since at least 2015, indicating that emails exchanged with the foam supplier discussed the problem. However, no investigation was initiated or corrective actions were taken until the massive recall was announced in June 2021.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in product liability lawsuits and class action lawsuits filed nationwide over the recalled Philips sleep apnea machines, coordinated pretrial proceedings have been established before Senior U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

In the coming years, it is expected that Judge Conti will establish a bellwether program where small groups of representative DreamStation 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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