Maker of recalled sleep apnea machines agrees to halt sales in US


WASHINGTON — The company behind a global recall of sleep apnea machines said Monday it will stop selling the devices in the U.S., under a tentative agreement with regulators that could cost the manufacturer nearly $400 million.

Device maker Philips has recalled more than 5 million pressurized breathing machines due to risks that their internal foam can break down over time, leading users to inhale tiny particles and fumes while they sleep.

The company first announced the problem in mid-2021, but efforts to repair or replace the machines have dragged on for years, frustrating patients in the U.S. and other countries.

The Dutch manufacturing giant said it has agreed to a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Justice. The deal has not yet been finalized and will have to be approved by a U.S. judge. Philips executives disclosed the tentative agreement during a quarterly earnings update.

Under the agreement’s terms, Philips would continue servicing previously sold machines in the U.S., but couldn’t sell new ones until it meets corrective actions laid out by the FDA. Company executives said they have set aside $393 million for operational changes and upgrades needed to comply.

The company promised it would put “safety and quality at the center of everything we do with a greater level of accountability,” Philips CEO Roy Jakobs told analysts and investors.

The FDA’s website warns patients that the risks of ingesting the sound-dampening foam could include headache, asthma, allergic reactions and more serious problems. In November, the agency issued a new warning that the machines can overheat, in rare cases causing fires.

The agency said it cannot comment on Philips’ announcement until a final agreement is “signed and filed with the court.”

In 2022, the FDA took the rare step of ordering Philips to step up its outreach to customers about the recall including “clearer information about the health risks of its products.” At the time, the agency estimated only about half the people in the U.S. with affected machines knew they had been recalled.

Customers trying to obtain refunds or new or refurbished devices from the company have reported months of delays.

Most of the recalled devices are continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machines. They force air through a mask to keep passageways open during sleep. The company has also recalled certain lines of ventilators and other breathing devices.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause people to stop breathing hundreds of times per night, leading to dangerous drowsiness and increased heart attack risk. The problem is more common in men than women, with estimates ranging from 10% to 30% of adults affected.

On Monday, Philips again pointed to company-commissioned studies suggesting that inhaling foam from its machines is “unlikely to result in appreciable harm” to patients. The company has discontinued several of the recalled models.

The latest announcement does not resolve 675 personal injury lawsuits filed against the company over the devices. Those cases have been consolidated in a federal court in Pennsylvania.

Philips faces similar legal challenges in Canada, Australia, Israel and Chile, according to the company’s update.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.



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