France, Netherlands investigating reports of faulty breast implants

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Last Thursday, French public health officials announced that they were considering a recall of faulty silicon breast implants implants made by Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP), a now-defunct manufacturing company that was once the third-largest maker of breast implants in the world. Now, officials in the Netherlands have turned their attention to the company, with Dutch healthcare authority spokesperson Diane Bouhijus telling Reuters Monday that an estimated 1,000 women in the Netherlands received the implants (rebranded as "M-implants") before they were banned in March 2010. 

Before shutting its doors in 2010 at the urging of French health authorities, PIP sold more than 300,000 prostheses worldwide, with more than eighty percent of its products sold overseas. The company was accused of using industrial-grade silicon — which is used in computers and cookware, among other things — for its implants, which is ten times cheaper than using the medical-grade silicon approved by health authorities.

Although French public health officials have urged the 30,000 women who received the prostheses to have them removed, government officials in other countries that received the implants — including Britain, Australia, and Brazil — recommend that women instead monitor their implants and regularly visit their surgeons for check-ups. Following reports that the implants might be linked to a rare form of cancer, however, patient safety groups are pushing the French government to pay for replacement prostheses for all women with the implants.