LONDON - For hundreds of thousands of women around the world a routine breast implant operation has turned into terror. The French-made implants contained a cheap, industrial-grade silicone not fit for human use.
The French government banned the implants from Poly Implant Prothese in 2010 and the company was closed down. Today the former owner of that company was arrested by French police at his home in the southern French city of Marseilles.
Jean-Clause Mas, 72, faces possible charges of manslaughter and involuntary injuries. His former deputy was also arrested.
The PIP implants are prone to leaking. There is no proof that the substandard silicone causes cancer, but just last month French authorities recommended women with PIP implants have them removed. Because PIP was the third-largest implant manufacturer in the world, this scandal spans the globe: 400,000 women in 65 countries. The implants were never sold in the United States.
Many countries are struggling to deal with the scale of this scare. Brazil is forcing private clinics to remove and replace the faulty implants, but Britain says there is no need to replace them. In Northern Ireland the government will remove the tainted implants, but it will not pay for replacements. In France, 30,000 women have been told to have them removed and 2,700 have filed complaints against Mas.
Mas has told French police that he knowingly deceived European safety inspectors for more than a decade. He continues to insist the implants pose no threat to women and he dismisses their complaints as craven effort to make money.