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Philips Recalls Breathing Devices Over Possibly Toxic Foam

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 6/14/2021 William Wilkes
logo: Philips Recalls Ventilators With Potentially Carcinogenic Foam © Bloomberg Philips Recalls Ventilators With Potentially Carcinogenic Foam

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Philips NV recalled roughly 3.5 million ventilation devices used to treat sleep apnea and increased its cost estimate for addressing a defect that may potentially cause cancer.

The company said some of its ventilators use sound-abatement foam that may degrade into particles that could be ingested or inhaled and potentially have toxic and carcinogenic effects. Philips doubled its provision for expected costs related to the issue to 500 million euros ($605 million).

Philips shares fell as much as 8.4% and were down 4.3% as of 9:30 a.m. Monday in Amsterdam. The stock is up less than 2% this year.

The recall is a setback for Philips as it shifts to focus entirely on health-care products. The company reached an agreement earlier this year to sell its domestic-appliances business to private equity firm Hillhouse Capital and first flagged the quality issue with certain sleep and respiratory-care products in April.

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Exposure to the polyester-based polyurethane, or PE-PUR, foam that that can enter patients’ airways can cause headache, irritation, inflammation and respiratory issues, according to Philips. The company issued a recall notification only for the U.S., where around 65% of the devices were sold, and a field safety notice for the rest of the world.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts, causing fatigue and leading to longer-term health risks. Philips has a range of ventilator products aimed at improving sleep patterns, many sold under the DreamStation product family.

Philips said it was working with regulators on a comprehensive repair and replacement program for the affected devices.

(Updates with shares trading in the third paragraph.)

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