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S CONCERN GROWS OVER the potential for harm caused by the faulty breast implants manufactured by Poly Implant Prothèses (PIP), the different stances taken by the

French and UK authorities over how to handle the consequences bear examination. Last month, French Health Minister Xavier

Bertrand issued a statement urging the 30000 French women with PIP implants to have them removed as a preventive measure. But the same statement says such action is not urgent. 'The message is as confusing as it is worrying

and puts too much onus onto the women with the implants,' says lead medical devices analyst, Ashley Yeo. UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has

adopted a more measured approach. He announced a review, but says the risk of rupture for the 40000 UK women with implants is 1%, whereas in France it is put at 3.6%. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says there is no risk of cancer

Following the warning that women who had silicone breast implants manufactured by Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), should have them removed, an Austrian private hospital, Vienna International Medical Clinic (VIMC), says it will remove PIP breast implants for free for UK women immediately. VIMC is offering to assist victims

by removing the implants, but is calling for international standards agreed by the various regulators to avoid any reoccurrence of the current problem. VIMC is starting the campaign with its own set

A round-up of news stories in the aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine industry

Sorting out who pays for explants is not the only issue to be considered

from leakage of the industrial grade filler used by PIP. In France, a number of cases of cancer have

been reported in women with the implants, but the authorities say they are not necessarily linked to the faulty implants. One woman with an anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) cancer died in late 2011. These rather less than

categorical statements provide little comfort to the affected implantees in the 60 or more countries served by PIP: the Marseilles, France company exported to Brazil, Argentina and other South American countries, and all of the major EU countries, among others. The PIP company was closed down by the

French government, and has no money to pay for corrective surgery for the women that


want it. The French government latterly said that taxpayers would fund explant procedures, but not new implants if original surgery was not done for post-breast cancer reconstruction reasons. 'Not all women who had PIP breast implants for cosmetic reasons will be able to afford a second implant, even if the explant procedure is paid for. This would leave thousands of women with little choice other than to live with their existing implants – and the fear (well founded or not) of possible sinister effects should a rupture occur,' explains Yeo.

The hesitant rectifying actions being taken by government authorities says much

for how cosmetic surgery is still perceived. Would progress be swifter were this not breast implants but another type of healthcare device?

 Turn to page 12 for Ashley Yeo's full analysis


of standards as a basis for discussion.

Dr Thomas Aigner, Head Surgeon at the clinic, said: 'This is an international market so there should be international standards agreed by the various regulators. VIMC are offering free surgery time for reversals to protect the reputation of the industry as a whole and to re-emphasise the international nature of the market.' After concerns emerged about

the safety of the implants in recent months, VIMC said it was shocked that there had been widespread

use of PIP implants in the UK especially.

to have the implants removed at the time of going to print, despite banning future use of these type of implants. France has issued the advice to remove them after PIP implants were linked to eight cases of cancer there and said the government will foot the bill. The NHS would ultimately foot the bill for removals in the UK. 'We have warned of the risks of

PIP before and were taken a back by how widespread their use was in the

UK and worldwide,' said Dr Aigner. 'However, our main concern now

is for those women who will .. worry about their implants. Our surgeons have all agreed that we have a role to play in putting these people’s minds at rest, which is why we are offering to remove the PIP implants free of surgeon costs. It is our understanding that while women in the UK can get them removed for free on the NHS, there are waiting times and they will then have to foot the bill for any replacement or corrective surgery through private cosmetic surgery. | January/February 2012 ❚ 9

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