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Philips is slow to recover its defective respirators, the authorities react

Philips is slow to recover its defective respirators, the authorities react

Philips is slow to recover its defective respirators, the authorities react

Certain Philips respiratory devices have for some time been accused of causing cancer in their users. French health authorities are now putting pressure on the industrial giant to speed up the replacement of devices.

Some 370,000 defective respiratory devices in France (1.5 million in Europe) are likely to cause health problems for their users. In the summer of 2021, Philips announced a major recall of these devices, mainly used against sleep apnea. In question: a sound-absorbing foam whose particles escape and can be inhaled by patients.

Philips liable to criminal prosecution?

The immediate risk is irritation causing coughing and headaches in users. But Philips had also mentioned a theoretical risk of cancer in the longer term. The group had therefore promised the replacement of all the devices. But several months later, only 7% of the defective devices have been recovered by the company.

“Philips does not respect its commitments”, declared this Tuesday Caroline Semaille, deputy director of the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM), who judges that the situation is “no longer acceptable”. The authority now wants to use the strong way and will, in the coming days, initiate a “health policy decision” in this case.

Concretely, Philips will expose itself to criminal proceedings if it does not respect the schedule imposed by the ANSM. This requires that the group has replaced three quarters of the devices by the end of June and asks it to launch a study to precisely assess the risks, in particular those of cancer.

A risk of cancer to be assessed

The risk of cancer is indeed only theoretical for the moment but it places the health authorities in a delicate position. On the one hand, they are encouraged to act quickly in the face of the concern of patient associations, certain media having recently relayed isolated testimonies on patients who have developed cancer.

But by drawing attention to the problems with Philips ventilators, the authorities are also aware that they can create a wave of panic among users, which could be far more deleterious than the hypothetical risks of cancer. While displaying its firmness in the face of the group, the ANSM therefore wants to be reassuring and encourages patients not to discard the devices.

The data currently available are rather reassuring as to the risk of cancer. The ANSM cites in particular a Canadian study which does not show any “excess risk”, according to Caroline Semaille. However, the authority wishes to have its own elements and will launch a study in France and set up a committee of experts responsible for evaluating the file.

Source: 20minutes

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