French authorities investigate dangerous implants

Christopher Werth Jan 26, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now to France, where today authorities arrested the founder of a company that sold faulty breast implants to women all over the world.

Christopher Werth reports from London.

Christopher Werth: Breast implants Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, burst or leak at a much higher rate than other implants.

But Kevin Hancock, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, says there’s a much bigger worry.

Kevin Hancock: The main issue is that the silicone that they contain is not a medical-grade silicone. It’s industrial silicone that was intended for manufacturers of mattresses and cushions.

And they were cheap. As result, the implants were used in tens of thousands of patients. European regulators are being asked how the implants could have passed inspection.

But there’s also a debate over who will cover the cost to remove them. PIP folded in 2010. Authorities in France have advised all women there to have the implants replaced. The British government has been more cautious. No PIP implants were sold in the U.S. — the FDA didn’t approve them.

In London, I’m Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.