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Implant scandal boss put behind bars

AFP · 7 Mar 2012, 09:14

Published: 07 Mar 2012 09:14 GMT+01:00

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The founder of the French breast implant company at the heart of a global health scare was jailed on Tuesday after failing to pay his bail, a source said.

Jean-Claude Mas, 72, was jailed at Marseille's Baumette prison, the source said, requesting anonymity. His lawyer could not be contacted for confirmation late Tuesday.

In January he was charged with causing "involuntary injuries" but released on a €100,000 ($131,000) bail.

Mas is the founder of Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which shut down in 2010 after it was revealed to have been using substandard, industrial-grade silicone gel.

French officials have said that cancers, including 16 cases of breast cancer, had been detected in 20 French women with the implants, but have insisted there is no proven link.

Between 400,000 and 500,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have implants from PIP, once the world's third-largest silicone implant producer.

The French government has advised 30,000 women to have their PIP implants removed, a call repeated in several other countries, including Germany and the Czech Republic.

However, Britain has said it will not issue similar advice.

Mas, a former travelling salesman who got his start in the medical business by selling pharmaceuticals, founded PIP in 1991 to take advantage of the booming market for cosmetic implants.

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He reportedly told investigators that he used fake business data to fool health inspectors.

The substandard gel was in 75 percent of PIP breast implants, saving the company about one million euros ($1.3 million) annually, according to an ex-company executive.

In January police also arrested Claude Couty, another former executive at the now-defunct PIP, in southern France and charged him with causing "involuntary injuries".

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