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PIP Breast Implant Litigation

Following reports of an increased rate of rupture in breast implants manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothèses (PIP), the French medical authorities undertook an investigation into the company’s products.

It was found that PIP had been manufacturing silicone implants filled with a lower grade silicone suited for industrial uses and not the medical silicone for which they had received a European CE mark.

Following the publication of these findings In March 2010, and the withdrawal of PIP implants within France, the UK’s MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) banned the use of PIP implants in the UK. PIP has since gone into liquidation. In December 2011, following increasing evidence of health problems relating to existing PIP implants, the French medical authorities took the view that all PIP implants should be removed.

PIP may have been using the industrial grade silicone for their breast implants since 2001. Since then more than 40,000 women have received PIP implants in the UK.

There are increasing concerns in the medical profession with regards to the ongoing safety of PIP implants. It is worried that PIP implants are more likely to rupture than other implants, and that the implants can leak without rupturing.

There are also concerns that in the event of an implant rupturing, the silicone within the implants poses a greater toxic risk to health than the silicone compositions of medical standard implants. In any event, any silicone which escapes from a ruptured implant can cause an inflammatory reaction and represents a risk to health.

As a result of developing concerns, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has indicated that it believes routine removal is appropriate should a patient request it, given the current level of concern and the potential for harm in the event of implant rupture.

The Situation in the UK

In the UK, the Department of Health has stated, following an interim report by a panel of experts that, based on current evidence available, the routine removal of PIP implants is not necessary.

It should be noted that the review was not able to comment on the toxic risk posed by the silicone within PIP implants owing to a lack of evidence and the possibility of the composition of the silicone changing over time. Similarly, the review stated outright that the experts writing it were not able to come to a firm view with regards to whether PIP implants were more likely to rupture than other implants.

In short, it is not clear at this stage whether PIP implants pose a long term risk to health and the Department of Health?s position with regards to routine removal may yet change.

The Department of Health has indicated that:

  • The NHS will contact all women who have received a PIP implant from the NHS and provide information as to the make of any implants provided through the NHS on request.
  • Those with PIP implants will be able to seek clinical advice with regards to their removal, either through their GP or the NHS surgical team which carried out the implant.
  • The clinical advice, above, can extend to an examination by imaging to determine if there is any evidence of the implant having ruptured.
  • The NHS will remove PIP implants if the patient, with their doctor, decides it is right to do so after an assessment of clinical need, balanced between the risk of further surgery and the ongoing risk of rupture. NHS advice will also take account of the worry and distress many women are going through by factoring in the impact of the concerns of the individual upon their wellbeing.
  • The NHS will replace PIP implants with appropriate implants in cases where the original implant was put in by the NHS.

The Department of Health has also made it clear that it expects private clinics to offer a similar service to those who had their implants put in privately. If the private clinic refuses to provide care for a patient, or is no longer in existence, then the NHS will provide care in line with that above, but will not provide replacement implants should removal become necessary.

PIP Breast Implant Compensation Claims

It is apparent that many women who had PIP implants privately are now left at the mercy of their private clinics. If their clinic does not offer free replacement of implants in the event of rupture, they will find themselves having to incur additional expense.

Additionally, many women who are justifiably concerned about having industrial grade silicone in their implants will not be able to secure free replacements and will be left in a difficult position unless the Department of Health’s position changes.

However, a claim for compensation may be possible for women who have received PIP implants. If you have had PIP breast implants put in within the last six years or if you have experienced problems with your implants indicative of a rupture or other injury within the last three years, then there is a good chance that a claim for compensation will be possible. Even if your surgery took place more than six years ago, a claim for compensation may well be possible, particularly if you suffered from a rupture or other injury.

Collins Solicitors has received and continues to receive a large number of instructions from women worried about their PIP implants. The firm acts in cases of rupture and for individuals who have encountered problems with their implants, including those suggestive of rupture. We also represent women who have not yet had any adverse symptoms. We currently plan to take group action.

We would be happy to investigate the possibility of a claim on your behalf and if you would like to submit your details to our PIP register, click here. Please provide your name and contact details and a member of Collins Solicitors’ PIP Implant Team will get in touch with you to take further details and discuss the possibility of a claim on your behalf.

We have a page answering a number of frequently answered questions which can be found here. Alternatively, do not hesitate to contact the PIP Implant Team directly on 01923 223 324, 0800 731 5821 or at charkness@collinslaw.co.uk.

Please note that registering your details with Collins Solicitors, or contacting us by any other means, does not automatically mean that you will be able to make a claim. Collins Solicitors is a law firm and will investigate the merits of bringing a claim on behalf of those who notify us of their wish that we do so. It is however your duty to answer any questions put to you in advance of Collins Solicitors signing you up as a client correctly and accurately. Collins Solicitors? duty will extend to retained clients only, who have signed and returned Collins Solicitors client care letter and terms of business.