Philips is pushing for a settlement this year of the first in a series of multimillion-dollar lawsuits, after being forced to recall more than 5 million sleep apnea devices, CEO Roy Jakobs said in an interview this week with the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad.
“I think that at least this year, we can reach a settlement on compensation for economic damage,” Jakobs said in the interview. A settlement with patients who say they have been harmed may follow this year, but could take longer, he added.
“That process is more complicated and is still at an earlier stage,” Jakobs said. “We probably won’t be able to clarify that until next year, but maybe by the end of this year.”
Netherlands-based Philips first reported two years ago that its sleep apnea devices, most of them continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, could emit harmful substances that could be inhaled by patients. Lawsuits from users allege that foam insulation used to quiet the machine degraded and was blown into users’ lungs.
The company must repair or replace more than 5 million of the devices, and the process has been slowed by COVID-related supply chain disruptions that have made it harder to obtain key replacement parts, and by the sheer volume of the challenge.
Jakobs said he “hopes and expects” to reach a settlement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year. Settling suits over alleged medical damages may take longer, he said.
“We think we will be able to prove that our equipment ultimately had no harmful effects,” Jakobs said.
Before becoming CEO last October, Jakobs was tasked with overseeing the recall and repair. Since the recall began, Philips’ share price has dropped about 70%. It recovered 8% Thursday morning in Amsterdam, after the interview was published.