Thousands of British women told “no need to panic” despite French authorities issuing cancer alert”Low quality” implants contain industrial silicone designed for computers and electronic devicesBritish lawyers say the government has left thousands of women in limbo
The Department of Health have insisted today that there is no need for British women with PIP breast implants to have them removed.
It comes a day after the French government announced they would foot the bill for tens of thousands of breast implant removals, amid fears they could raise the risk of cancer.
The French-made implants, were filled with a silicone gelbelieved to have been made for mattresses gel rather than medical grade gel.
Edwige Ligoneche was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer two years after having breast surgery using a French-made silicone gel. (See box below)
Yesterday the French government told 30,000 affected women to have the implants to have them taken out.
But a similar number of British women who also have the controversial implants face hefty surgical bills for the same treatment.
However, a Department of Health spokesman, played down health fears, saying: “The MHRA had discussions today with other health or regulatory experts from France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Denmark and Malta.
“They all agreed that there was no evidence of any increase in incidents of cancer associated with PIP breast implants and no evidence of any disproportionate rupture rates. This is in line with UK findings.”
It follows advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency(MHRA) that said women with an concerns should make an appointment with their implanting surgeon and have a full discussion.
But the advice has led to accusations that British women, including breast cancer survivors, are being left in limbo.
Lawyers acting for hundreds of women who are suing UK clinics over health concerns linked to the breast implants, said the medical regulator needed to take action.
Mark Harvey, a partner at Hugh James solicitors, which is representing more than 250 women, said some of his clients had complained of inflammation, fatigue and fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal pain disorder.
Mr Harvey added: “The recent reports have, of course, been very worrying to our clients, many of whom have already suffered terrible problems as a result of their implants.
“I have written again to the MHRA to urge them to react to the developments in France and, similarly to France, to set up a suitable protocol for women affected in this country.
“I do not believe that MHRA”s reaction to date has been satisfactory; it is unbelievable that the MHRA have not ensured that they were involved with the consultations in France about a product that affects such a large amount of women in this country.”
Up to 50,000 women in this country have the Poly Implant Protheses, or PIPs, which were among the cheapest on the market and widely used in cosmetic clinics both here and abroad.
CALL FOR GREATER REGULATION
Sally Taber, director of Independent Health Advisory Services, said the breast implant industry should be more heavily regulated.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, she said: “I think what we need to have as a good lesson from all of this, is this country needs a breast implant registry.
“I”ve been involved in setting up with the Department of Health, the national joint register, so you could monitor every hip and every knee that a patient has in this country.”
Ms Taber said patients should make an appointment to see their surgeon if they were worried about their implants.
“I”m not saying that they don”t need to worry but the advice in this country is that they do not need the implants removed,” she added.
“MRHA, as I said, have done separate studies, and it”s really important that patients take note of what MRHA said.
“The industry has got a complaints mechanism if they want to complain to the organisation where they had the implant.”
Douglas McGeorge, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: “People with PIP implants do have a higher failure rate and there is a significant risk at some point they might rupture.
“If this is a worry for patients, the sensible thing to do is to get them replaced earlier rather than later.”
The NHS does take out damaged implantsbut won”t pay for new ones to be put in, meaning patients could be leftwith a bill that runs into tens of thousands of pounds, as well as the trauma of additional surgery.
Fears about the safety of PIPs surfaced 18 months ago when surgeons noticed they were rupturing much more quickly than other brands.
An inquiry ordered by the French health watchdog reported “serious irregularities” in the implants.
But when the gel”s manufacturer was asked for studies on the safety of the filler, it said it did not have any – because it believed it was to be used in the manufacture of mattresses.
It also emerged that many of the implants were missing a protective coating designed to stop them from splitting and prevent any gel that leaked from spreading through the body.
Tests failed to find any firm evidencethe implants could trigger cancer. But earlier this month the death of aFrench woman who had breast augmentation in 2005 raised fresh concerns.
Edwige Ligoneche died from a rare formof cancer and the French Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery said the gel could have been an “aggravating factor”.
Threat: The”low quality” implants contain industrial silicone – designed for computers and electronic devices – instead of medical-grade fillers
Yesterday French government spokesman Valerie Pecresse said: “It is a matter of urgency that all women who have had these PIP implants are identified and the implants removed.”
“The profession has no choice,” said Laurent Lantieri, a leading plastic surgeon based in Paris, adding that the removal of the implants was a “simple operation”.
Meanwhile, 27 British women are suing their clinics to pay for the operation and for compensation for scarringand emotional trauma.
Kevin Timms, of Hertford-based Garden House Solicitors, said those worst affected could be in line for tens ofthousands of pounds. The firm is also trying to compile a national register containing details of all those who have the implants.