While critics long have ripped the Food and Drug Administration for its weak oversight of medical devices and its too cozy relationships with their makers, the federal agency and a Dutch global conglomerate have given millions of U.S. consumers a big, infuriating, prolonged exposure to just how bungled the oversight of this industry can be.
As 2022 races to its close, the Wall Street Journal has reported on this costly, inconvenient, and unacceptable mess, as has the New York Times. And now, so has Stat, the science and medical news site, which wrote this about the “flaws in device oversight” as so many regular folks have experienced with the FDA, manufacturer Philips, and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and BPAP or BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) devices:
“The ongoing recall of millions of breathing devices made by Philips has been botched and belabored at nearly every turn: It took more than a decade after users first reported the soundproofing foam in their CPAP and BPAP machines breaking down for Philips to issue a recall. Even after the recall notice was issued, it failed to reach many patients, and many are still waiting on their promised replacement devices or refunds, some of which had to be recalled themselves. More than a year after the recall, the FDA has received more than 90,000 reports about problems with the devices, including 260 … deaths reportedly associated with the products. The [FDA] has pulled out all the stops — including regulatory orders not deployed in decades — to force Philips to contact users about the recall and replace the devices in a timely manner.