Implant scandal boss put behind bars

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.

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”.


France bans breast implants from new firm

France, still shaken from a faulty breast implant scandal that saw thousands of women suffering ruptures, has banned implants made by a South Korean company after the firm’s products failed to meet safety standards.

France bans breast implants from new firm
France has moved to ban implants from a South Korean firm over safety fears. Photo: Shutterstock

The national drug and health safety agency, ANSM, banned Hans Biomed Corporation from selling its products after the biotechnology firm refused to let its inspectors visit its production site, as it said its factory was being rebuilt.

ANSM said Hans Biomed implants were available in Europe under three brand names – Bellagel, M-Implants and Natureshape – but that these were not all available in France.

The agency was able to examine the latter two brands and said that “the quality of these breast implants highly questionable”. 

It did not elaborate on what the problems were, nor did it say how many, if any, women had had these faulty implants put in place.

No one was immediately available at ANSM to provide further details.

When ANSM revoked Hans Biomed’s authorisation in February this year it informed the European Union authorities of its move, who in turn informed national authorities across Europe.

Medical devices such as breast implants come under national and not EU responsibility, so it would be up to individual countries to decide whether to follow France’s lead. 

No-one was immediately available in Hans Biomed’s headquarters in Seoul to comment on the ban.

The news of the ban came in a major report published on Tuesday by ANSM inspectors who had visited all 11 sites in France where implants are made as well as the various distribution centres.

One French firm, Cereplas, was ordered to suspend its implant sales while it raised its standards to the legal norms but ANSM said its products did not pose a threat to health. 

The inspections were carried out in the wake of a scandal in which 300,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have received faulty implants made from industrial-grade silicone by French firm PIP.

More than 7,500 women have reported ruptures and in France alone more than 15,000 have had the PIP implants replaced.

The ANSM report painted a worrying picture for the 340,000 women in France who have had their breasts enlarged.

It said that that 2,169 women – aside from those who got faulty PIP implants – had since 2010 reported that their implants had ruptured.

The report said the breast implants on offer by various companies lasted on average 7.6 years, and not the ten years promised by their manufacturers.

It also said that women who had implants suffered more frequently from lymphatic cancer than the general population.
by Rory Mulholland