Former Owner Of French Breast Implant Company Arrested

The former owner of a now-defunct French breast implant company has been arrested amid a worldwide cancer scare scandal involving tens of thousands of women who received defective silicone breast implants.

We recently wrote that Jean-Claude Mas, the 72-year-old founder of Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), was is being sought by Interpol on an unrelated drunk driving charge. At that time, Mas was potentially facing prison time in Costa Rica on the charge, but fled the country before he could be brought to trial.

Mas, who was arrested in southeast France, was detained today as part of a judicial investigation in the southeastern city of Marseille over manslaughter and involuntary injuries, said an official close to the investigation, wrote MSNBC. A defendant has not been named in the case, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Investigating judge Annaick Le Goff opened the case following a lawsuit filed by woman whose daughter died in 2010 after having received a “suspect implant,” said MSNBC.

As least 3,000 alleged victims have filed complaints and about 300,000 PIP implants have been sold worldwide by Mas, who admitted he used unapproved silicone in his implants but brushed off fears it constituted a health risk, said MSNBC. Mas was detained just before dawn during a search of a residence in Six Fours Les Plages, on the Mediterranean coast, said a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.S. women were recently warned about the PIP implants and, as we recently wrote, regulators in the Netherlands advised women to have the PIP silicone breast implants removed and the Icelandic government said it will bear the cost of patient monitoring for women with the implants, as well as implant removal for patients whose devices are damaged. Fears about ruptures and cancer have spread to many of the other countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Israel.

Germany has advised women to have the devices removed, and women in several countries, including France, Iceland, Britain, and Argentina, have filed, or are planning to file, lawsuits over the implants. Brazilian health authorities said the government there will fine private health insurers that refuse to pay for removal and replacement of the faulty PIP breast implants, said MSNBC.

PIP silicone breast implants were recalled in 2010 after it was learned that they contained industrial, rather than medical grade, silicone. Late last year, the same breast implants sparked cancer fears in France after one woman with ruptured implants died from aplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare cancer. French health authorities have advised some 30,000 women there who had received the PIP silicone implants to have them removed because of their risk of rupture, but have been unable to definitively link them to cancer. The government there has said it will pay for removal procedures for women who received the implants as part of breast reconstruction surgery.

The PIP silicone breast implants were never approved for sale in the U.S.; however, PIP did sell roughly 35,000 saline filled implants in the U.S. between 1996 and 2000. Those devices are the subject of U.S. product liability lawsuits alleging they deflated after several years. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also cited the saline implants in a warning letter in 2000, before they were taken off the market here.

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