Lawsuit Alleges Philips Respironics CPAP Machine Caused Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
Amid continued scrutiny by federal investigators, and calls for criminal charges by some U.S. lawmakers, Philips Respironics continues to face new CPAP machine lawsuits filed by users who developed cancer and other illnesses after inhaling toxic foam particles and fumes on a daily basis.
A massive Philips Respironics CPAP machine recall was announced in July 2021, impacting millions of breathing assistance devices, including BiPAP and mechanical ventilators sold since 2009. The devices contained a defective polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam, which was intended to reduce the noise the machines made as they were used.
However, the manufacturer acknowledged at that time that the foam was known to degrade and breakdown, releasing small black particles, chemicals, and toxic gases directly into the machine’s air pathways. Due to the serious health issues from breathing the Philips CPAP foam, consumers were told to immediately stop using their machines unless needed for life supporting treatment.
Papillary Thryoid Cancer Caused by Philips CPAP Machine
By the time the recall was issued, Devin Cummings indicates in a recently filed complaint (PDF) that he had already been using his Philips Respironics Series 60 CPAP machine on a daily basis for six years. Although he stopped using the machine after learning about the recall, just over a year later he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), which the lawsuit indicates was the direct result of exposure to toxic foam particles released directly into the machine’s air pathways.
The claim joins thousands of other Philip CPAP lawsuits now being pursued by former users throughout the federal court system, each involving allegations that regular users of the machines developed various forms of cancer, respiratory illnesses, lung diseases and other complications, which could have been avoided if the manufacturer had issued an earlier warning or used an safer alternative design.
Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common form of thyroid cancer, with the number of people diagnosed with the malignancy growing, with more than 20,000 new cases every year, according to the Columbia Thyroid Center. Even though known risk factors can include radiation and family history, the majority of new patients have no known risk factors, the Center indicates.
PTC, however, gives the patient the best chance of survival out of all known forms of thyroid cancer. In most cases, it can be sent into remission if detected and treated early, and is rarely lethal.
While most cases are asymptomatic, PTC can result in the growth of masses on the thyroid, which can lead to difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath.
Evidence Philips Knew CPAP Machine Cancer Risks
Cumming’s lawsuit says he would not have had to receive treatment, or suffer life-altering side effects, if Philips had warned consumers and the medical community when problems with it’s CPAP machines were first detected.
“Philips knew about the potential health risks from its PAP devices related to PEPUR foam degradation well before notifying the public on June 14, 2021,” Cummings’ lawsuit states. “An adverse event report from FDA Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database shows that, as early as 2011, Respironics learned that a patient had reported discovering ‘black dust’ on her nose when she awoke the morning after using a RemStar CPAP device and subsequently underwent treatment for ‘intoxication’ and ‘chest tightness’.”
The lawsuit indicates the company discovered black particles in the airpath and internal components, but denied it was from the device.
Cummings is not alone in this claim. An investigation by ProPublica revealed that Philips began to receive reports of sound abatement foam breaking down in the devices as early as 2010, but waited more than a decade before warning the public.
The report claimed that Philips hid more than 3,700 reports of problems with the CPAP machines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that the company’s own scientists had confirmed there was a health risk for users several years before the recall was finally issued.
In October, Senator Richard Blumenthal called for criminal charges against Philips as a result of how the company handled the CPAP recall. Earlier this month, he was joined by Senator Dick Durbin in calling for an investigation into the FDA’s oversight of medical devices as a result of the Philips debacle.
December 2023 Philips CPAP Lawsuit Update
In September, Philips announced it would pay at least $445 million in a CPAP recall settlement to individuals who bought, rented or leased one of the impacted devices, and another $34 million to health insurance companies and others who paid to reimburse users to replace the machines.
The settlement agreement seeks to resolve all economic claims against the manufacturer, and automatically include about 1.3 million users who have returned devices to Philips through its recall program without the need to submit a claim.
However, that still leaves thousands of individual claims, like Cummings’, unresolved.
As part of the coordinated management of litigation the company is facing, a Philips CPAP lawsuit bellwether process is expected to be established, where small groups of representative claims will be prepared for early trial dates if Philips CPAP settlements can not be reached to resolve large numbers of claims.
While the outcome of these early verdicts will not have any binding impact on other plaintiffs, the average Philips CPAP lawsuit payout amounts awarded by juries are likely to have a big influence on how much the manufacturer will pay to settle claims, to avoid each claim being remanded to different U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future. However, a settlement agreement reached before then may make such trials unnecessary.
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MarthaDecember 30, 2023 at 9:04 am
Hello I'm 62 yes old 2 heart attacks ,COPD required BIPAP the past 4yrs,,Humana Ins paid the bill,When I brought the issue to Aperia Health who which is was supposed by send a field guy out. It was brytt up often even told by family and lung doctor to have them replace mine,That never happened wat did take place was being told I'm be fine don't worry it nothing strong w yours .Not true I matched n[Show More]Hello I'm 62 yes old 2 heart attacks ,COPD required BIPAP the past 4yrs,,Humana Ins paid the bill,When I brought the issue to Aperia Health who which is was supposed by send a field guy out. It was brytt up often even told by family and lung doctor to have them replace mine,That never happened wat did take place was being told I'm be fine don't worry it nothing strong w yours .Not true I matched name ,serial#,I took it on my self to talk w lung doctor switch comp8s plz I'm asking could s one reply back as to why no one felt I needed help like umm hush hush were taking heatkth issues my #740 586 8750 Sincerely M Hasan
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