Philips debuts smaller emergency ventilator amid manufacturing expansion

Philips is rolling out a new emergency-use ventilator to help relieve some of the burden on intensive care units as well as to provide care both inside and outside of hospitals.

Built as a smaller alternative to the more durable, full-featured hospital ventilators currently in high demand, the Respironics E30 device can deliver high-flow oxygen both invasively and noninvasively and can include air filters to help minimize healthcare workers’ potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Designed for mass production, Philips said it plans to quickly scale up manufacturing, with a goal of producing 15,000 units per week by the end of the month. It’s described by the FDA as a portable device and capable of being used in converted spaces for large numbers of COVID-19 patients such as convention centers, university dorms or hotels.

The announcement comes shortly after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put in a $646.7 million order for 2,500 new ventilators for the national stockpile by the end of next month, and a total of 43,000 by the end of the year.

“Our hope is that this solution will help to free-up ICU ventilators for use in treating the most severe patients,” said David White, chief scientific officer at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care. The company said it is working with international regulatory authorities to distribute the device to areas experiencing ventilator shortages. 

In late March, the FDA issued a blanket Emergency Use Authorization to different types of ventilators, respiratory devices and accessories, allowing their use against COVID-19 following a manufacturer’s official request. The agency also waived its enforcement and inspection requirements in a move to get more ventilators into the field as fast as possible. The FDA maintains a public list of these authorized products; Philips’ E30 ventilator was given the go-ahead April 8. 

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Philips also tapped its contract manufacturing partners—including Flex and Jabil—to further expand its assembly lines for larger, hospital-based ventilators as part of a plan to double their production by May.

After that, the companies hope to achieve a fourfold increase to 4,000 hospital ventilators per week by the third quarter of this year, according to Philips CEO Frans van Houten. 

This includes the medtech giant’s Trilogy ventilator, assembled at its site in western Pennsylvania, and its Respironics V60 hardware manufactured in California. These heavier ventilators require over 650 different components gathered from the U.S., Europe and Asia—and establishing a sufficient and uninterrupted supply is currently the “rate-limiting step,” according to Philips.

“Following the initial hospital ventilator production increase in late January, we decided to aggressively accelerate our hospital ventilator production as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic began to shift from China to the west,” said Philips Chief Operations Officer Sophie Bechu. 

“Our trusted partners Flex and Jabil will provide additional assembly lines, and equally important will help manage and support the supply of the components,” added Bechu. “Together we hope to produce as many critical care ventilators as possible to help healthcare providers across the globe treat the growing number of critical COVID-19 patients.”