PIP breast implant mastermind arrested

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The founder of the company - Poly Implant Prothese or PIP was arrested Thursday in an early-morning police raid on his luxury home in the south of France. The PIP implants have been the center of controversy and fear after reports of rupture of the breast implants due to use of second grade materials in their manufacture.

Officers in Six-Fours-les-Plages searched the property of Jean-Claude Mas, head of Poly Implant Prothese, and took the 72-year-old into custody. He was formally placed under investigation for manslaughter and involuntary injury. The preliminary court hearing and bail eligibility would be decided today Friday.

Jean-Claude Mas has already acknowledged that his company made breast implants using “homemade” silicone that had not been approved for medical use. The gel implants reportedly included a mix of agricultural-grade and industrial-grade silicone. Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, closed down in 2010 after regulators raised the alarm. He has told the police previously that he knew the gel he was using was not approved but denied that it was dangerous. “I did it knowingly because the PIP gel was less expensive…and better quality,” he was reported to have told police. On Thursday however, police had to suspend their questioning of Mas, who recently underwent a heart operation, after he complained of feeling unwell. A second PIP executive, Claude Couty, was also arrested Thursday.

Last month, the French government advised 30,000 women to have the substandard PIP implants removed after health officials warned that the implants had a higher risk of rupturing and leaking. PIP was once one of the world's largest producers of silicone implants, known for their “good value” and reasonable price. The company produced more than 100,000 implants a year, exporting 80% of them to more than 60 countries.

European governments have taken different positions: German, Czech and French authorities say they should be removed, while Britain says there is not enough evidence of health risks to suggest removal in all cases. On Wednesday, health authorities in Brazil said the government will fine private health plans that refuse to pay for the removal and replacement of faulty breast implants sold by PIP and a Dutch company.

About 2,500 women have filed complaints and will be interviewed by investigators. Manslaughter carries a five-year prison sentence, and involuntary injury, three years. Lawyer Philippe Courtois, who represents a number of women who have PIP implants, said they face a long wait for justice. “The investigation could last three, five or 10 years,” Courtois said. A second investigation of possible “aggravated deception” has been completed and a court hearing is expected in October. Jean-Claude Mas faces three to five years in prison if convicted on this count.

“Everything's fine. This conforms to procedure. There's nothing extraordinary,” Mas' defense lawyer, Yves Haddad, told reporters outside the home. “Stop looking for the scoop.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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