French breast implant scandal – what the surgeons knew

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The breast implant scandal in which faulty implants with sub-standard silicone gel were supplied to women all around the world revealed how the French company PIP that made them fiddled safety inspections to avoid being found out. Mediapart has since exposed the extent to which the French medical watchdog was slow to react to this growing scandal. Now, based on previously unpublished documents, this website can disclose that years before the PIP affair came to light many of the surgeons who bought and used the implants for patients were concerned at the substandard nature of the product – and that some unsuccessfully tried to raise the alarm. Michel de Pracontal reports.

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In 2010 the PIP breast implant scandal erupted after the French medical watchdog AFSSAPS discovered that they were being made with a gel that had not been approved for medical use. By the time that Jean-Claude Mas, founder of PIP, and four other executives were convicted in late 2013 for their involvement in the affair, the media had already highlighted the company's many failings, including the way it fiddled safety inspections to hide the poor nature of its products. And last October Mediapart revealed how AFSSAPS itself – now known as the Agence nationale pour la sécurité du médicament (ANSM) – had been slow to react to the problem.