Recall spurs CPAP litigation ad push

Feb 22, 2022

Recall spurs CPAP litigation ad push

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement of a recall of some CPAP and BiPAP machines at the end of June 2021, advertising targeting the devices skyrocketed from just 2 ads that month to over 25,000 ads through the end of 2021 and the devices have emerged as some of the most targeted products across all mass tort TV advertising.

Number of CPAP Litigation TV Ads,

Jun-Dec 2021

The FDA alert warns of potential health risks caused by possible toxins and particles released from the foam within Philips Respironics ventilators, BiPAP, and CPAP machines used to treat sleep apnea.

Amsterdam-based Koninkelijke (Royal) Philips voluntarily recalled the devices in June, two months after it publicly warned of “possible risks to users related to the sound abatement foam.”

The company recently announced that the recall would affect over 5 million devices worldwide — up from an original estimation of 3 to 4 million. As a result of this announcement, the company’s stock price dropped 15%.

Law firms, lead generators, and other mass tort advertisers seized on the FDA and recall announcements to initiate a blitz of TV ads seeking potential plaintiffs injured by these devices airing nationally and in over 100 media markets across the country. 

As a sign of further litigation trouble and likely more advertising to come, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA warned that the replacement machines that Philips has been producing since September may be harmful as well. 

The FDA did not order a recall of some 250,000 replacement devices Philips has sent to users, but said it was concerned that a silicone-based foam used in the substitute devices could also emit harmful gases.

The FDA report detailed findings suggesting that the company had for years taken inadequate action in response to complaints relating to foam degradation.

The most widely-aired television ad soliciting CPAP Machine claims in 2021 with over 8,200 airings at an estimated cost of over $360,000.

Online ad campaigns have multiplied as well with mass tort advertisers initiating ads, social media posts, and websites seeking potential CPAP lawsuits.

Sample Facebook & Google Ads, 2021

The onslaught of advertising appears to be resonating with the public as reflected in the more than fifteen-fold increase in the number of Google searches for “CPAP lawsuit” since June.

Number of Google Searches for “CPAP Lawsuit,”

May-Dec 2021

Source: KWFinder

A few weeks prior to the recall announcement, Phillips announced that an estimated 3.5 million CPAP, BiPAP and ventilator breathing machines were distributed with unsafe and defective sound abatement foam. The company generated over $23 million in annual revenue from the devices in recent years.

Following the filing of over 110 federal lawsuits against CPAP-manufacturer Philips, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered the consolidation of the cases into multidistrict litigation at its September 30 conference and sent the cases to a Pittsburgh federal court. Over 230 federal cases are now pending there as of mid-February.

One plaintiffs’ law firm estimates that potential settlement amounts for the most serious injuries as a result of use of the CPAP machines could reach $150,000 per case.

Philips said it had determined that the polyester-based polyurethane foam in 11 models manufactured before April 2021 could degrade under certain circumstances, releasing toxic fumes and small particles that might be inhaled through the devices. The company estimated that 3 million to 4 million machines are in use, with about half in the United States.