Via America’s Lawyer: Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea and rely on CPAP machines to get them through the night. But Philips’s DreamStation devices have been shown to break apart, releasing cancer-causing chemicals into people’s airways. From the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference in Las Vegas, RT’s Brent Jabbour fills in for Mike Papantonio, to sit down with attorney Troy Bouk to discuss the widespread dangers of these devices which could be slowly killing users in their sleep.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: Millions of Americans who suffer from sleep apnea depend on CPAP machines to get them through the night. But it turns out these devices are releasing cancer causing materials, slowly killing users in their sleep. At a meeting in Las Vegas, RT’s Brent Jabbour sat down with attorney Troy Bouk to discuss the dangers of these devices.
Brent Jabbour: Troy, tell us exactly about the safety concerns of these CPAP machines.
Troy Bouk: Okay. Well, basically the CPAPs, the BiPAPs and the ventilators all use the same type of foam that is used for sound abatement, and that’s called PE-PUR foam. And that foam basically breaks down over time into little pieces and those pieces get inhaled into a person’s lung, and they can also be digested into a person’s system like that. And so you can get anything from kidney cancer, liver cancer, you know, nasal cancers we’ve been seeing, and you can also get sort of inflammation of the lungs and it can cause significant inflammation of the lungs. And I recently signed up a guy who has sarcoidosis, and I think that’s going to be one of the injuries in this case.
Brent Jabbour: And, you know, the company is behind these CPAP machines and BiPAP machines and so on, you know, they have to tout the quietness of these machines because if you’ve ever been around a loved one or had to sleep in the same room as someone with a CPAP machine and these type of ventilators, they can be very loud. They can be quite a noise nuisance, correct?
Troy Bouk: Yeah, you’re exactly right. And in fact, you know, for the DreamStation line, which is a very significant product line that Phillips advertises, their, their key advertisement was that it was 64% quieter than the competition. And so this foam was their competitive edge.
Brent Jabbour: And do we know if a company like Phillips knew of the dangers of using this type of foam to actually dampen the sound?
Troy Bouk: Well, I think there’s indicia there that they absolutely knew and I think when all the evidence comes out, we’re going to see that they knew, there was no question about it, right. And, you know, really, even in the way this recall was set up, we saw that on April 13th of this year, 2021, you know, Phillips announced a new product line, the DreamStation 2. And it was supposed to be, hey, this, this great new product line, you know, and, but it uses a different type of foam. And then you see just two weeks later on April 26th, they announced in Phillip’s quarterly report, hey, we’re going to have to take a reserve because those, that old line that we’ve been selling is dangerously defective. And then two weeks after that, they issue of recall of the DreamStation. So they basically announced their new product line and then they, you know, recalled their old product line.
Brent Jabbour: So, it is essentially that they knew there was a problem, but they said, wait, wait, wait, before we do something, let’s make sure we have the, the next product in line set up so that we don’t have these issues. So we don’t lose any profit.
Troy Bouk: Brent, you’re exactly right. That’s exactly how it looks.
Brent Jabbour: And where is the litigation with this right now?
Troy Bouk: So right now, the JPML panel, which is the federal panel of judges, just decided this past week that they’re going to situate this MDL. They actually agreed to form the MDL and they’ve issued it to judge Conti in the Western district of Pennsylvania, which is Pittsburg, basically.
Brent Jabbour: And how many people are we talking about being involved? I mean, I know we say that millions of Americans, these are very common devices. I mean, I think we all know somebody who uses a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, because if you don’t know about sleep apnea, I mean, you could wake up because of the way it closes your throat and the way the air is actually transmitted through your body. It actually can wake you up hundreds of times, or up to 100 times that is to say, an hour while you’re trying to get a good night’s rest. So this is something that affects people and can really be detrimental if you have to struggle with it and this looks, and the way we’re looking at this right now.
Troy Bouk: Yeah, you’re exactly right. Sleep apnea is a serious condition. If you don’t, or are not able to use your CPAP machine, like in this case, due to the recall, you could potentially die because it keeps your airways open. And that’s the problem. If your airways happened to close up and your, you know, your system, your internal system, didn’t wake yourself up to take that extra breath of air you could potentially pass away.
Brent Jabbour: And then you brought up an interesting point there because you talked about the FDA and regulators here. I mean, these devices have to be approved and it’s the same thing we see with medication. They have to be approved by regulators in the United States and in any country, generally, that they’re selling these in. So when that’s the case, why did regulators miss this?
Troy Bouk: You know, that’s a good question and it’s really because they’re not the ones doing the actual testing. Usually they’re having to rely on the company to self report. Hey, you know, these are the claims that we’re seeing in people contacting us and if the company simply doesn’t transmit them onto the FDA, the FDA may never know. Right. And it’s the same with all drugs. The FDA is not the ones doing the testing. They’re looking at all the data that the companies produce while doing their testing.
Brent Jabbour: And what is Phillips actually saying in response to, as these, because there’s obviously they’ve done the recall, but what were they saying as far as when we start to see litigation coming forward?
Troy Bouk: Well, they actually came out and they said, you know, as part of this recall, unless you absolutely have to use these devices, don’t use them, except for the ventilators. Ventilators are sort of a life support device and so they’ve told people do not stop using them until you have an alternative device to go to. But for the CPAPs and BiPAPs, they basically said you need to contact your doctor and determine if your doctor weighs the risks versus the reward of using the machine. And that’s a lot to put on a doctor and I’ve talked to lots of pulmonologists now, and they’re quite upset about this because it is basically having a doctor make a medical decision based on information they’re not aware of because, you know, the pulmonologists that I spoke to said, hey, you know, I don’t know how dangerous these machines are. I haven’t done any studies. I haven’t seen any results. There’s no epi studies in there. So how, how can I make that reasonable decision and tell my patients, oh yeah, continue to use it? You know, Phillips needs to be coming forward and bringing this information to us. How dangerous are your machines? You’re saying you’re recalling them all. You’re saying that could be carcinogenic. But what are we talking here? What’s the probabilities? What’s the chances?
Brent Jabbour: Troy Bouk, thank you so much.
Troy Bouk: Yeah. You’re welcome, Brent.