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Pay out of pocket or risk death — CPAP users left in costly bind after millions are recalled

Posted at 12:10 PM, Dec 17, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. — Millions of continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machines were recalled in June over a potentially dangerous defect. A Sarasota man, who had a dangerous condition and couldn’t wait weeks for the fix, paid for his machine out-of-pocket.

He called ABC Action News for help getting reimbursed for a machine he couldn't live without.

Retiree Stephen Yarmolyk depends on his CPAP to ensure he doesn’t stop breathing for good. Stephen has obstructive sleep apnea and must use a CPAP machine every night.

Yarmolyk learned of the Philips safety recall in July. It involved millions of CPAP units including his model, so he called his doctor.

“He said I have to keep using it,” Stephen said.

According to the recall letter posted on Philips website, pieces of foam insulation in the machine can break away, enter the air tube, and be inhaled.

The company stated: "These issues can result in serious injury......the potential risks...inflammatory response, headache, asthma, adverse effects to other organs..."

At that time, Philips did not have a replacement or repair remedy available for its customers. Rather than risk using a unit under a recall, Yarmolyk spent $899.00 on a CPAP from a different manufacturer.

He told ABC Action News he’s been bugging the company since August to reimburse him.

During our interview, Yarmolyk made what he said was his eighteenth call to the company. After hanging up Yarmolyk relayed what the customer service person told him.

“All they said is we don't know anything, we'll escalate it and someone will call you back.”

When Philips was asked about reimbursements for people like Yarmolyk, who couldn’t wait for a replacement without life-or-death risks, a spokesperson responded that “… this point in our remediation program, Philips is focused on providing repaired or replacement devices to patients as our priority.”

If you or someone you know owns one of the defective devices click here to apply for a repair or replacement.