UK demands data on breast implant ruptures

January 4, 2012 - 8:51 AM

LONDON (AP) — Britain's health secretary has demanded that private U.K. clinics supply data by the end of the week on how many French-made PIP breast implants have ruptured in Britain.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said Wednesday that officials don't have good data on numbers of implant failures in British patients. Some 42,000 women in Britain are thought to have received the implants.

The implants, made by now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese, were pulled from the market last year in countries around Europe and South America amid fears they could rupture and leak silicone into the body.

France has recommended that the estimated 30,000 women in France with the implants get them removed after more than 1,000 ruptures, and agreed to pay for the procedure.

France's health safety agency says the implants appear to be more rupture-prone than other types. Investigators also say PIP used industrial silicone instead of the more expensive medical variety to save money. However, the medical risks posed by industrial silicone are unclear.

The French decision has put pressure on British health authorities from women who want their implants removed.

In an interview Wednesday with BBC radio, Lansley said the government hopes to determine the rate of failure of the PIP implants compared to other products.

"The question really comes down to the extent to which these implants fail relative to normal implants and the relative risks of their removal compared to the risk of having an operation," he said.

Lansley said so far there was no evidence of a heightened risk of cancer associated with the ruptured PIP implants.

Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has said its figures showed that 1 percent of the implants in Britain had failed.

However, the Transform clinic reported a 7 percent failure rate, based on 108 implants. The clinic says it stopped using the PIP implants in 2005.