Faulty breast implant case underway in court
One of France’s biggest and most costly trials is set to open today in the Southern city of Marseille, as five directors of French breast implant manufacturer Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) go on trial for allegedly selling faulty products using sub-standard materials.
More than 5,000 women have registered as plaintiffs in the case against PIP that sees the company’s directors – including PIP founder Jean-Claude Mas – charged with fraud for using an unregulated industrial-grade silicone in the implants, which is twice as likely to rupture.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in jail and fines of €37,500. The logistical costs of the trial have been estimated at €800,000 and it is set to last for a month.
The trial will be attended by hundreds of victims and more than 300 lawyers. To accommodate large numbers, the proceedings have been moved from the regular courthouse to the city’s congress centre, with special seating arrangements made for 1,500 people in two large rooms.
The scandal emerged in 2010 when PIP was closed and its implants taken off the market after it was discovered that the company had been using an illegal homemade concoction of the industrial grade and agricultural silicone not fit for use on humans.
Figures reveal that in the last few years around 300,000 women in 65 countries received PIP breast implants. In France, where patients reported a rupture rate of 5%, the government has advised that 30,000 women have the implants removed – a project that it will fund.
It is estimated PIP had exported more than 80% of its implants, with around half going to Latin America, a third to countries in Western Europe, 10% to Eastern Europe and the rest to the Middle East and Asia.
However, so far France is the only country that has compensated women for having the implants replaced, but at ceiling of €4,200.