Anorak | Replacing all PIP breast implants on the NHS is a must

Replacing all PIP breast implants on the NHS is a must

by | 2nd, January 2012

THE story of the faulty Poly Implants Prostheses (PIP) breast implants – the ones filled with industrial silicon – is gaining momentum. The British Government says the French-made PIP breasts might be faulty, but they will not replace them on the NHS. The French Government will replace any breasts containing the cheap silicon for women who had them for post-cancer reconstructive surgery. The French say that the prosthetics could rupture. In all, 300,000 woman across the world have had the implants – around 50,000 in the UK.

Are the cheaper PIP breasts implants- the cheap fakes cost £100 each, a third the price the correct grade ones – dangerous? The French National Cancer Institute investigated after eight women with PIP implants developed breast cancer. It found no evidence to suggest that there was a link.

Which all begs the questions: if cheaper, industrial silicon poses no risk to health why is it banned from breast implants?

But it turns out that the rate of rupture could be seven times higher than estimated.  Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, says the curent evidence does not justify safety concerns. But the current evidence is not all that thorough. He’s ordered a review.

Says Lansley:

“I want to reassure women that if any new data comes to light which calls into question the safety of these implants, we will act swiftly to help them. Our top priority is making sure that women get the correct advice so that they are kept safe.”

How reassured do women feel?

The Sunday Times reports:

The latest figures are understood to have been presented by Transform, Britain’s leading cosmetic surgery chain, and showed that 7% of the PIP implants it had used on patients since 2006 had ruptured, compared with the official national figure of 1% given out last week by the regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This compares with a 5% failure rate identified in France.

Lansley has called on Sir Bruce Keogh, the National Health Service medical director, to review the evidence.

Says Susanne Ludgate, the clinical director of the MHRA, in The Sunday Telegraph:

“It’s clear there is conflicting data coming from the cosmetic surgery sector. It raises doubts about the surveillance and reporting of incidents by these companies.”

Fazel Fatah, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (…BAAPS), said:

“When PIP first started cheating and introducing industrial silicone, if there had been a national registry a trend would have emerged very early on that these implants were more liable to rupture. It would have quickly attracted the attention and concern of regulators.”

Jean-Claude Mas is the founder of Poly Implants Prostheses. He is accused of fraud. The family of a woman who had one of the faulty implants and who died of cancer in France are bringing a manslaughter case against him.

Speaking through his lawyer, Yves Haddad, Mr Mas explained why low-grade silicon was used:

Why did this company use this kind of product? Because it was a corporation with economic objectives and because of corporate management that tried to get the best cost.”

While the rich can afford the best stuff, the less well off cannot. Mr Mas offered a cheap solution.

If the British government were to pay for all PIP implants here to be removed, the cost would be an estimated £120m. The Mail makes that £150m:

With each operation costing up to £3,000, the total sum involved could reach £150million.

The Times estimates £2000 per op. And the big number is only if every woman has them removed on the NHS – not just cancer patients, as in France.

Nigel Mercer, former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and a council member of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said both the organisations supported the approach taken by France. He said: “It’s a no-brainer. The risk involved in removing the implants is minimal and should cost around £2,000 per patient, while the cost of monitoring them for potential problems would be much greater.”

Given that no operation is without some risk, and that stress affects health, the NHS should move fast and just pay for all the breasts to be replaced asap. Why wait until the panic becomes grounded in fact and the waiting list for surgery grows, favouring those who can pay more..?


Posted: 2nd, January 2012 | In: Reviews Comments (4) | TrackBack | Permalink