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HEALTH

PIP scandal: One in four breast implants ‘faulty’

France's medicines safety watchdog on Tuesday revealed that doctors have removed breast implants made by disgraced French manufacturer PIP from more than 16,000 women. Some 25 percent of the products also had signs of splitting or leaking.

PIP scandal: One in four breast implants 'faulty'
Photo: Webhotographeer/Flick

A total of 16,426 women have had the implants removed since investigators found the devices were twice as likely to rupture as rival brands, and that French manufacturer PIP used industrial silicone to fill them, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) said.

Of the 28,276 implants that have been removed, 7,186, or 25.4 percent, were defective, it said.

Of these, 4,406 showed signs of splitting in the implants' outer skin, and in 1,976 others, illegal gel was "sweating" through it, the agency said.

The ANSM's figures apply only to France. An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have received the implants; some 30,000 of them in France.

News of the faulty implants in 2011 sparked fears worldwide, but health officials in various countries have said the prosthetics were not toxic and did not increase the risk of breast cancer.

The ANSM said on Tuesday that it had found 70 cases of breast cancer among women with PIP implants, "but the detected tumours are not associated" with the devices.

PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas, 73, has been charged with manslaughter and fraud. PIP's implants have been banned and the company, located near Marseille, southern France, has been wound up.

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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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