PARIS (AP) – France’s national health insurance agency will file a criminal complaint in a breast implant scandal, an official said on Dec. 24, after authorities recommended that women with potentially faulty implants have them removed and agreed to pay for the procedure.
The agency will file the complaint for deception and fraud, according to an official. “It now appears pretty clear that these breast implants did not meet the specifications imposed for these products,” said the insurance agency’s director, Frederic Van Roekeghem. “That will surely have damaging consequences for the patients and there will be a significant cost for social security also and so in this context it’s normal and natural for us to file a complaint.” He added that a civil suit would also likely follow.
The implants, made by now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese, were pulled from the market in 2010 in countries around Europe and South America amid fears they could rupture and leak silicone into the body.
France’s health safety agency says the implants appear to be more rupture-prone than other types. Also, investigators say PIP used industrial silicone instead of the medical variety to save money. However, the medical risks posed by industrial silicone are unclear.
The state health system has estimated the removals could cost $78 million. Roekeghem said insurance would also pay for replacement implants; he appeared to mean for women who had breast reconstruction surgery after cancer—a procedure covered by insurance.
Fears about the safety of implants grew into a public furor, when women marched in Paris and governments spoke out about the implants. France went the furthest, recommending that the estimated 30,000 women in France with the implants get them removed after more than 1,000 ruptures.
Health Minister Xavier Bertrand insisted the removals would be “preventive” and not urgent, and French health authorities said they had found nothing to link the implants to nine cases of cancer in women. The death of a woman who had the implants and developed anaplastic large-cell lymphoma had catalyzed worries.
Bertrand said that those responsible for the implants must “answer for their acts.” “They were looking to make money, that’s the worst thing, on the back of the health of women,” he said.
The Associated Press