Recently we reported about the now defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) that manufactured defective silicone implants. We told you about other countries around the world and how they each are responding to the anxieties over the defective products.
Now, as of today, January 26, 2012, the former head of a French company at the center of the breast implant scandal was arrested Thursday in southeast France, an official says.
Jean-Claude Mas, who founded and ran the now-defunct French company was detained as part of a judicial investigation in the southeastern city of Marseille into manslaughter and involuntary injuries, said the official.
So far no specific defendant has been named. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is in the hands of judicial investigators.
Investigating judge Annaick Le Goff opened the probe after a woman filed a lawsuit in the wake of the December 2010 death from cancer of her daughter who had received a suspect implant. Her death set off a wave of anxiety for the tens of thousands of women around the world who have received the implants, though health experts have said the silicone carries no known cancer link.
As many as 3,000 other complaints by other alleged victims have been taken into account.
Authorities world-wide have been scrambling to strike a proper public response to the scandal—notably concerning who will pay to remove the implants—made with cheap, industrial-grade silicone instead of medical-grade gel—or whether the implants need to invariably come out.
European governments have taken different positions: German, Czech and French authorities say the implants should be removed, while Britain says there is not enough evidence of health risks to suggest they should be taken out in all cases.
On Wednesday, health authorities in Brazil said the government will fine private health plans that refuse to pay for the removal and replacement of faulty breast implants sold by PIP and a Dutch company.
A lawyer for Mr. Mas said in a statement earlier this month that his client, who ran PIP until it was closed in March 2010, would not speak publicly on the case.
The scandal has put pressure on French health authorities for allegedly not doing enough to vet the quality of a product used by thousands of women both in France and abroad.
France’s Health Safety Agency has said the suspect implants—just one type of implants made by PIP—appear to be more rupture-prone than other types. Investigators say PIP sought to save money by using industrial silicone, whose potential health risks are not yet clear.
PIP’s website said the company had exported to more than 60 countries and was one of the world’s leading implant makers.
Although no PIP implants were known to have been used in the United States, U.S. women are now being warned about the faulty French-manufactured breast implants.
Dr. Phillip Craft, with the Miami Institute, told CBS Local that breast implants approved in the United States have “a thick exterior and medical grade silicone inside. The PIP implant has a thin exterior and industrial grade silicone inside.” Craft explained that although the implants are illegal in the U.S., about 300,000 have been sold worldwide.
The Miami Institute is holding educational seminars to inform people that PIP implants are no longer used and that the manufacturer is now bankrupt, said CBS Local. The group said it will work with patients implanted with the defective devices and is offering discounted rates for implant repair. If the implant ruptures, patients can suffer from Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, among other adverse reactions.