French police arrested Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the breast implant company PIP at the centre of an international health scare, police said Thursday.

"/> French police arrested Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the breast implant company PIP at the centre of an international health scare, police said Thursday.

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HEALTH

Police arrest boss of breast implant company

French police arrested Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the breast implant company PIP at the centre of an international health scare, police said Thursday.

“Jean-Claude Mas was arrested at the home of his companion … and taken into custody,” said a police source, adding that officers had picked him up on Thursday morning.

Mas was arrested over an investigation opened in December in the southern port of Marseille into the health implications of PIP’s breast implants. 

Police are investigating possible charges of homicide and involuntary harm.

French doctors have registered 20 cases of cancer among women fitted with the implants, 16 of whom had breast cancer, although as yet no direct causal link has been established.

Between 400,000 and 500,000 women around the world are believed to have received implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), the now-defunct company that Mas founded in southern France.

France, Germany and the Czech Republic have recommended that the devices be removed as a precaution but Britain has said it will not follow suit.

The prostheses were withdrawn from the European market in 2010 after France’s health watchdog discovered they were made from sub-standard, industrial-grade gel.

Frenchman Mas has already confirmed they were made with a non-authorised silicon gel but has rejected any suggestion that they pose a health risk.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) intervened in the affair for the first time urging women with the devices to seek medical advice if they had any concerns in a “Global Alert and Response” statement issued on its website.

The WHO said data about adverse events from the implants was sketchy and hoped for stronger reporting of episodes in order to get a clearer picture.

“While the rupture rate of PIP prostheses was observed to be higher than expected in France, rates reported by other national authorities vary,” it noted.


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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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