Hundreds more women at risk of faulty implants

Health authorities are trying to trace hundreds more Irish women who may have received the potentially dangerous PIP breast implants as far back as 1997.

The Irish Medicines Board said French authorities have confirmed the Poly Implant Prosthèse (PIP) implants, which contain industrial silicone rather than medical-grade fillers and may be more prone to rupture and leak than other implants, were inserted in patients prior to 2001.

“To date all advice issued internationally regarding the PIP breast implants issue has referred to patients who received PIP breast implants from 2001 to 2010,” the Irish Medicines Board said in a statement.

“The IMB has advised the implanting clinics of this development today and requested that they identify and contact any women who may have been implanted with PIP silicone gel implants before Jan 1, 2001.”

There had been 1,500 women identified in Ireland as having received the implants between 2001 and 2010.

The IMB said it was not known how many may have received them before 2001, but added that “current information suggests a small number of patients could be affected”.

However, in Britain it is being speculated the new information may mean 7,000 more women could be affected to add to the 40,000 already identified.

The IMB said that its compliance staff were currently conducting a detailed examination of the records of the British distributor to try to establish the numbers affected here.

“This, in addition to feedback from the clinics, will assist in establishing the number of PIP implants in Ireland used prior to 2001,” it said.

“The IMB continues to advise any women with these implants who have any concerns about their breasts or implants to seek clinical advice from their implanting surgeon or their GP.”

PIP gained approval to market its silicone implants in 1997 but it is not clear when it began using a cheap type of silicone gel intended for making mattresses.

Up to yesterday, between 400,000 and 500,000 women in 65 countries were believed to have received PIP implants, once the world’s third largest silicone implant producer.

Jean-Claude Mas, the Frenchman who owned the now-defunct PIP, was imprisoned earlier this month after not paying his bail.

Mr Mas had been released from police custody on Jan 27 on bail of €100,000 and banned from leaving France. He faced a charge of causing bodily harm.

A number of French women who have received the implants are suing him, though Mr Mas has been quoted as claiming they are motivated only by money.

He has acknowledged that he used unapproved silicone but dismissed fears that it constituted a health risk.

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