Philips recall leads to shortage of breathing machines as COVID-19 cases rise

A recall of millions of ventilation devices by Philips in June has led to a shortage of such devices, and as the COVID-19 delta variant surges, physicians are concerned about the low supply, The New York Times reported. 

Philips recalled 3.5 million ventilation devices after finding a defect that could cause cancer. Since the recall, millions of people who relied on the machines have had to find alternatives. 

"Because the number of people coming into the hospital with severe respiratory symptoms has increased as a result of COVID-19, the demand for these devices has also increased, which is problematic since available supply has decreased as a result of the Philips recall," David Schulman, MD, a pulmonary and critical care medicine specialist at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, told the Times

The FDA told the Times it isn't aware of any effect on COVID-19 patients' care as a result of the shortage. 

A survey taken of home medical equipment suppliers in April 2020 found that more than half of respondents reported supply chain interruptions for ventilation devices, the Times reported. Thomas Ryan, the chief executive of the American Association for Homecare, which commissioned the survey, told the Times that the Philips recall has "certainly exacerbated" the shortage. 

"Given the shortages of materials to make these devices, such as resins and computer chip modules, and transportation bottlenecks, I expect that supply will continue to lag behind demand into 2022. It is becoming a crisis," he told the Times

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