France vows probe into breast implant failures
AFP PARIS FRANCE vowed on Tuesday to investigate failures to detect faults with the French-made breast implants at the centre of a global health scare, as a senior lawmaker urged a full parliamentary probe.
Meanwhile a supplier to the manufacturer at the heart of the scandal, Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), confirmed it had sold the firm the non-standard, industrial-grade silicone believed to have been used in the implants. A growing litany of accusations against the nowdefunct PIP has triggered a worldwide scare with several countries, including France, advising thousands of women to have its implants removed.
Between 300,000 and 400,000 women in 65 countries from Europe to Latin America are believed to have implants made with sub-standard gel PIP used to cut its costs.
“All the elements now suggest that the gel (used in PIP’s implants) was truly contaminated,” French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand told France 2 television.
“How was this not detected by checks?” he asked. “I want to know everything... I have asked for investigations at the Directorate General of Health and AFSSAPS to know what happened, how these checks were done.” Bertrand said that he would in the next few days be contacting his counterparts around Europe to discuss the scandal. Chantal Jouanno, a senator with the ruling UMP party and former sports minister, said she had made a formal request for a parliamentary investigation to be held “without delay” into the scandal.
“The end of 2011 was marked by the revelations of the scandal around PIP breast implants... (which) established the risks of rupture and inflammation from these implants,” she said in a statement.
“This is a problem of public safety which the nation’s representatives must seize upon,” Jouanno said.
Based in the south of France, PIP was shut down and its products banned in 2010 after it was revealed to have been using industrial-grade silicone gel that caused abnormally high rupture rates.
Fears over its implants spread globally last month after French health authorities advised 30,000 women to have their PIP implants removed because of the increased risk of rupture.
Officials have also said that cancer, including 16 cases of breast cancer, has been detected in 20 French women with the implants but have insisted there is no proven link with the disease. Prosecutors in Marseille have received more than 2,500 complaints from French women who received the implants and are pursuing a criminal investigation.