January 26, 2012

French Breast-Implant Maker Arrested For Deceiving Inspectors

In a scandal that´s been in the making for over a year, the elderly founder of the French breast implant manufacturer Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) is now under house-arrest on charges of violating national safety regulations.

French police have been investigating 72-year-old Claude Mas since he confessed in 2011 to ordering his factory workers to hide low-grade industrial silicone from inspectors.

A law enacted in 2010 prohibited the production and sale of the company´s silicone implants amid concerns that they were prone to leakage and rupturing.

It now appears that PIP disregarded the law and continued to sell the implants. Investigators estimate that as many as 400,000 women in some 65 countries now have the questionable breast implants.

According to an AFP report, Mr. Mas´s attorney has not yet commented on the case and stated only that: “[Mr. Mas] is not well, he is tired and he is waiting for his doctor.”

Last year Mas candidly admitted to police that he had deceived European safety inspectors for years. He maintained, however, that the silicone implants in question were harmless and even criticized the French government for paying women for the removal of the implants, stating that the operation necessary to remove them was a greater danger than the implants themselves.

Philippe Courtois, an attorney representing the women who received the PIP implants, said he was pleased that Mr. Mas had finally been arrested.

“This is a relief. It´s come late, but at least it´s happened. He´s been placed in preventive detention. Let´s see in the coming hours what his interrogation by the investigating magistrate brings.”

Courtois added that: “What we´re really hoping for is his formal investigation [to take place] under remand in custody, just to make sure that he doesn´t leave French soil during the investigation.”

Of the estimated 400,000 women who were fitted with the illegal implants worldwide, only about 30,000 are French. Of these, some 2,700 have already filed formal complaints against Mr. Mas, and that number is expected to increase as the investigations gains momentum and increasing media attention.

Most of the remaining women who purchased the implants are located either in Latin America or other European countries. National health organizations in Germany, the Czech Republic and Venezuela have also advised women with the implants to have them removed.

In England, however, where about 40,000 women have the implants, medical experts say that there is no need for everyone to have them removed. Seeming to lend credibility to Mas´s claim that the implants are not dangerous, the British state health care system NHS has told women with PIP implants that they should only have them removed if they are experiencing pain or discomfort.

Throughout mainland Europe and the United Kingdom, numerous state and private medical organizations are offering free or reduced-cost removal of the implants.

In addition to the charges he´s facing at home, the international police agency Interpol has also reported that Mas has a warrant for his arrest in Costa Rica on charges related to a drunk driving incident.


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