Breast implants made by troubled French firm PIP have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits in the United States, where they were sold up until 2000, documents filed with the US government show.

"/> Breast implants made by troubled French firm PIP have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits in the United States, where they were sold up until 2000, documents filed with the US government show.

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HEALTH

French breast implant maker faced US lawsuits

Breast implants made by troubled French firm PIP have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits in the United States, where they were sold up until 2000, documents filed with the US government show.

French breast implant maker faced US lawsuits
J Webb

Tens of thousands of women worldwide have been fitted with the implants, which were made from industrial rather than medical grade silicone.

 

France’s health ministry recommended last week that the 30,000 women in the country with the implants have them taken out, saying that while there is no proven cancer risk, they could rupture dangerously.

In the United States, PIP implants were sold through Heritage Worldwide until May 2000, when the US Food and Drug Administration launched a moratorium on silicone implants.

At the time, the US market accounted for 40 percent of Heritage Worldwide’s revenues, or $4 million (€3 million), according to corporate documents filed in 2009 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The firm posted significant losses in subsequent years, especially starting in 2007, as both users and distributors filed complaints against the company.

Between 1996 and 2009, PIP was the target of several dozen lawsuits in the United States, filed not only by women using the implants but also by its business partners, claiming breach of contract or unmet payments.

A February 2009 document cites three complaints in Florida — filed in October 1999, June 2000 and July 2003 by five members of the Kwartin family against PIP, its affiliates and founder Jean-Claude Mas.

The plaintiffs said they were shareholders of PIP distributor PIP/USA, Inc. and were seeking unspecified damages from PIP and other stakeholders “arising out of alleged tortious and other purported wrongful acts,” the document added.

The complaints were later consolidated into a class action lawsuit in 2005.

Dozens of women began filing lawsuits against PIP, mainly for product liability, starting in 2003, including in Illinois and Texas. But as of 2009, no trial date had yet been set. Many of the lawsuits were later dismissed.

The complaints cited defective merchandise not suited for its intended purpose and violations of local consumer legislation.

HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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