Today is the effective date in the Dow Corning bankruptcy, finally allowing injured people's claims to be processed. The court-appointed claims administrator for the $2.35 billion fund said that thousands of letters will go out June 1st and that the first checks should be mailed June 15th. The case started in 1995 when the former breast implant manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in the face of thousands of claims.
The details of the company's bankruptcy plan were confirmed in 1999, but numerous appeals stalled the implementation. The effective date comes on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) February 8th decision to maintain restrictions on the sale of silicone breast implants. Despite this news, last year over 300,000 women received breast implants of all types, even though the risks are poorly understood.(i) According to the FDA, and the manufacturers' own data, nearly all implants fail, most women require corrective surgery within a few years, and many women suffer painful and debilitating complications.
When the FDA decided not to lift restrictions, their scientists acknowledged that long-term health risks were still unknown. Implant survivors may receive from $2,000 to $250,000. Details are available to the public at http://www.dcsettlement.com or by calling 1-866-874-6099. "Women in the Dow Corning settlement can finally get some closure," said Sybil Niden Goldrich, the consumer representative on the Tort Claimants Committee and founder of the Command Trust Network, an information clearinghouse on breast implants. "Now that corporate interests are no longer distorting research funding on this issue, we hope that women and their treating physicians may finally learn the long-term effects of silicone in the body and how to best get relief from their symptoms."
Ms. Goldrich, a breast cancer survivor, received breast implants after a bilateral mastectomy. Her implants were replaced four times as each set failed. Debilitating symptoms kept her bedridden until she had the implants removed for good, after which her health improved. Years later, silicone was removed from her uterus and ovaries during a hysterectomy. A biopsy also revealed silicone in her liver.
Information on the settlement and options is available on line at www.sfdct.com, a website hosted by the Settlement Facility, and offered in seven languages, or by calling 866-874-6099 in the U.S. and Canada.