Patients and associations are organizing to initiate collective legal action against the Dutch manufacturer Philips Electronics. The group has launched a global product recall campaign for “positive pressure” devices, used to fight sleep apnea. These artificial respirators were found to be defective.
This is a particularly important page that turns in the “Respiratorgate” file. Me Christophe Lèguevaques, lawyer from Toulouse at the Paris bar, is preparing to launch collective legal proceedings against Philips Electronics, in the case say faulty artificial respiratorsused to combat sleep apnea.
The Dutch manufacturer has incorporated sound-absorbing foam into its devices which, as it degrades, is likely to release chemical particles. These micro-elements, which are particularly harmful to health, are broken down by the machine and can reach users’ lungs. “It’s a bit like being sent asbestos dust to you all the time,” explains Me Lèguevaques to The Midi Dispatch. This causes irritation and, in some cases, cancer.”
“LPhilips employees Electronics very worried”
According to the Toulouse lawyer, the problem is old: “We have information coming from the United States, which tends to show that Philips had been aware of the problems with his respirators since 2015. An investigation carried out by the American Medicines Agency (FDA) asserted that Philips employees Electronics, noting problems with this famous foam, said they were already very worried at the time”.
Contacted by The Midi Dispatchthe group claimed thatin previous years, “there have been very few complaints related to foam degradation, which Philips has assessed and addressed on a case-by-case basis. Potential issues related to volatile organic compounds only began to surface more recently”.
Six years later, in June 2021, the group issued a “recall notification” on its website concerning nearly 5 million devices worldwide and nearly 370,000 respirators in France. An “insufficient” communication for the lawyer: “The National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) claims that 93% of patients who use these respirators are not aware of their failure”.
Already on February 7, the ANSM had banged its fist on the table, believing that the device replacement plan was not moving fast enough: only 7% of devices had been returned. The organization therefore decided this Friday to “take a health policy decision to accelerate the replacement of certain devices”. A choice contested by Phillips who claims to study “the possibility of appealing against this decision as soon as possible”.
The Dutch manufacturer maintains: “According to the first available data, the risk of cancer linked to the use of these devices is not proven”.
A “Breathing Mediator”
“The Philips Electronics group will have to come to us and make proposals, affirms Me Lèguevaques, who describes the case as a Mediator of breathing”. We are dealing with people who need to be informed and reassured about what’s happening”.
The Toulouse lawyer thus wishes to initiate two legal proceedings against the Dutch manufacturer. The chairman initially proposes criminal action against Philips Electronics. “Medical expertise from people who have used these respirators for years will be necessary, believes the lawyer. It will then be a question of knowing how long the risk of cancer is proven when using these devices.
Me Lèguevaques also wishes to initiate a second action, civil this time, for “moral damage of anxiety”. In practice, people who wish to register for this process can register until April 11 on the collective action platform. Myleo.
For its part, Philips affirms that “the information to the patients concerned was made through the intermediary of the health providers and the attending physicians” and indicates that it wants to share “transparently, all the information at its disposal, to enable them to answer the questions of the patients “.