Using cheap and risky ingredients to produce health goods – that’s what some of China’s merchants are accused of doing. But is that peculiarly Chinese?


As the following report suggests, beastly greed and wanton disregard for the safety of consumers is not the prerogative of just some unscrupulous merchants in China.


Police arrest breast implant boss


The owner of what was once the world's third largest breast implant firm is awaiting questioning on possible charges of involuntary manslaughter.  FRENCH police have arrested Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of breast implant company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which is at the centre of an international health scare.


The Frenchman was arrested over an investigation opened in December in the southern port of Marseille into the health implications of PIP breast implants. Police are investigating possible charges of homicide and involuntary harm. French doctors have registered 20 cases of cancer - 16 of which were breast cancer - among women fitted with the implants, although as yet no direct link has been established.


 Between 400,000 and 500,000 women around the world are believed to have received implants made by PIP, the now-defunct company that Jean-Claude Mas founded in southern France .


France, Germany and the Czech Republic have recommended the devices be removed as a precaution but Britain and Australia have said they will not follow suit.

The prostheses were withdrawn from the European market in 2010 after France's health watchdog discovered they were made from substandard industrial-grade gel.


Mas has already confirmed they were made with a non-authorised silicon gel but has rejected any suggestion that they pose a health risk.



Background timeline

1991: Jean-Claude Mas (73 years old), a former medical sales representative for the Bristol Myers company, started producing breast implants through his company PIP.

2000: Implant sales in USA halted by an FDA launched moratorium on silicone implants.[10]

2001: PIP began to use unapproved in-house manufactured industrial-grade instead of medical-grade silicone in the majority of its implants.[2]

2009: Concerns surfaced in France first in 2009 when surgeons started reporting an abnormally high rupture rates which resulted in a flood of legal complaints and the company's bankruptcy.[2]

2010: TÜV Rheinland, headquartered in Germany, gave a quality certificate to the production process used by the company until March 2010. However, this didn't apply to the type of silicone used.

A former PIP worker and union chief, Eric Mariaccia said "You had to have been a chemist to have noticed anything,".[11] He also said that "The responsible ones aren't the workers but the heads of the company, notably the four who were linked to production and thus responsible for their quality,"[11]

2010: In March 2010 PIP was placed into liquidation with losses of 9 million EUR after the French medical safety agency recalled its implants. In a subsequent inspection of the manufacturing site, the company was found to use unapproved industrial-grade, silicone, with a cost of only 10% of an approved gel.[2]

2011: On December 20 French officials say that an action plan is underway[12] following the death of a woman from ALCL.[13] The French government recommended on December 23, 2011[14] that 30 000 women[2] in France seek removal of breast implants made of a suspect silicone gel by the worldwide exporting PIP firm.[14]