UK: Communication with women affected by PIP breast implants branded ‘inadequate’

ACTION by the Government and a health regulator to communicate with women over the PIP breast implants scandal has been branded “inadequate” by MPs.

The Commons Health Committee pointed to a more than 20-month delay between a safety alert being issued to surgeons over the potentially faulty implants and “urgent action” to gather evidence and communicate with affected women.

Around 47,000 British women are believed to have been given the implants manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

The Ipswich Star told how the implants had affected two brave women earlier this month.

Andrea Hayman and Lisa Lyons had breast implants in 2006, both only discovered they were PIPs once the scandal broke at the end of last year.

The duo faced a fight to have their implants removed, after they discovered their PIPs had ruptured – leaking toxins into their bodies.

Mrs Hayman warned Star readers of the important of having the implants removed, by claiming “it isn’t worth the risk”.

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PIPs were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses and have been linked to rupture and swelling in the body.

New evidence in today’s report said surgeons have experienced “increased difficulty” in removing ruptured implants, which may mean there is a need to recommend they are taken out early.

Evidence from one of the clinics also points to women suffering pus, “redness and lumpy, granular tissue”, and silicone in the lymph nodes in “one in four to one in five cases”.

Even when implants have not ruptured, surgeons taking them out have found a “milky secretion” in 20% to 25% of cases, the report said.

MPs criticised the actions of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and questioned the Government’s response.

The MHRA issued an alert in March 2010 telling surgeons they should stop using PIP implants - the CE mark for PIP implants had been withdrawn following concerns raised in France.

The report said no awareness campaign was made to trace affected women and the Committee heard from the MHRA’s head, Sir Kent Woods, that while he could not guarantee private firms had not continued using the implants, he “sincerely hoped” this had not happened.

The report said “sincere hope” is not an adequate basis for regulation.

The report said: “The action taken to communicate with affected women after March 2010 was inadequate.

“The Committee recognises that private clinics had a duty to contact their patients directly, but the MHRA and the Department of Health also had a duty to raise public awareness.”

The MPs said it was “surprising” that urgent action to gather evidence and communicate with affected women only gathered pace in December 2011 when the French government recommend women have the implants removed.

- Were you affected by the PIP breast implant scandal? Call the news desk on 01473 324788 or send an e-mail to starnews@archant.co.uk