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Philips, a New York cleaning products manufacturer, has filed utmost effort to stop Philip's lawsuit

Philips, a New York cleaning products manufacturer, has filed utmost effort to stop Philip's lawsuit

Philips, a major cleaning supplies firm in New Hampshire, is now being sued by tens of thousands of companies, including one that was previously involved in numerous lawsuits after it recalled millions of machines used by sleep deprived patients.

SoClean Inc., which represents Philips, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston on Tuesday, claiming $200 million in damages, alleging Philip's products were incorrectly blamed for the problems that prompted Philip to issue the massive recall of devices commonly known as CPAP and BiPAP machines in June.

The suit alleges that Phillips false and misleading statements about SoClean products have had a devastating impact on So Clean. SoCleans sales have fallen, its brand reputation has been tarnished, and the firm has lost an enormous amount of goodwill, said the CEO.

The Peterborough, N.H.-based firm claimed to be the market leader in ozone cleaners, which are widely used by sleep apnea patients to clean CPAP and BiPAP machines, masks and other accessories.

Philips has "committed deliberate misdirection, pointing the finger at SoCleans ozone cleaners to divert attention away from Philip's," the suit claims.

Philips North American, a subsidiary of the Dutch multinational firm, said it does not comment on ongoing litigation. The North American subsidiary is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The recall of about 2 million Philips machines in the United States came after Philip said it discovered that the foam used in its machines for noise reduction may break down and be swallowed by users, leading to severe and even life-threatening injuries, although no deaths have been reported.

In its 30-page complaint, SoClean pointed to Philips' CEO and chairman, Frans van Houten, making numerous statements after it initiated a voluntary recall.

Philips stated in a Q&A posted on its website shortly after the recall that it recommends that patients shut use of ozone-related cleaning products, according to the complaint.

Philips also warned consumers that the foam degradation may be enhanced by the use of unapproved cleaning methods, such as ozone," according to the complaint.

And in an earnings call in July, van Houten said of ozone cleaners, Its a very aggressive cleaning method that shouldnt be used on medical devices at all, the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, van Houten falsely stated that the Federal Drug Administration had issued a safety warning stating that sleep aides should not be used for ozone.

The SoClean complaint alleges that the real reason that foam is breaking down in some CPAP machines is a defective Philips design. The safety concerns that led to the recall were created by Philipss poor choice of foam, according to a complaint.

The complaint claims that Philips' cleaning instructions are totally inadequate to clean the entire machine. A superficial cleaning with soap and warm water isnt enough.

Sleep apnea patients stop breathing repeatedly while they sleep, only to be partially or fully awake when their brains dont get enough oxygen. It deprives those who have it of restful sleep and is linked to a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver dysfunction, among others.

Sleep Apnea Treatments Using a CPAP machine are the most commonly used treatment for sleep affliction. Users wear a mask or nosepiece that is attached to the machine and provides squeaky-quiet airflow while they sleep.

Philips is also facing a number of lawsuits on behalf of users of its machines, including 10 brought in US District Court in Boston last summer. Philips failed to notify the public of the problem as soon as it knew about it, according to one of its most grave allegations in those lawsuits.

Shanon J. Carson, a plaintiff in one of the Boston suits, said last summer that Philips had knowledge of faulty electrical wiring but failed to warn the public of its serious health risks.

The lawsuits seek to compensate users of the machines for economic losses as well as for pain and suffering, Carson said. Given the number of people affected by the recall, damages could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Philips claims to have received a small number of reports of patients complaining of headaches, upper airway irritation, cough, chest pressure, and sinus infection.

After an investigation, the firm has said, it has determined that patients exposed to the degradation of the foam face severe consequences, including asthma, adverse effects on other organs (e.g., kidneys and liver), and toxic carcinogenic effects.

Philips has said it first noticed the breakdown of the foam and its risks to patients through its own quality management system.

Philips has pledged to repair or replace the affected CPAP machines. In a statement released on Wednesday, o an unnamed firm spokesman said that the completion of that task may take 1-2 years.

Given that as many as 4 million CPAP are in use worldwide (about half in the US), we anticipate to complete the repair and replacement program in each country within approximately 12 months after obtaining regulatory clearances, the spokesman stated.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration must approve the firms repair and replacement program.

Meanwhile, Philips has implemented a large-scale patient awareness initiative that has been advertised in newspapers, including The Boston Globe, in recent weeks.

Philips does not have all contact information to communicate directly with CPAP users via mail or e-mail, according to the spokesman. That information belongs to equipment providers, he added, and Philips is working with those providers to contact CPAP users.

We fully understand and regret the adverse consequences this is having on patients, the spokesman added. We are always trying to reach out to our patients and clients, he added.

Got a problem? Send your consumer complaint to sean.murphy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.

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