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Anger over UK's failure to ban breast implants linked to 61 cancer cases

At least 61 women in the UK have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer linked to breast implants, but the type they received continues to be used, with no plans by the regulator to follow France and Australia in banning them.

Lawyers for more than 40 of the women, who are bringing legal action against the manufacturers as well as the clinics and doctors who carried out the surgery, say the textured implants linked to anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) should be withdrawn from the market. Smooth implants are available instead, which have no proven connection to the cancer of the white blood cells.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says the disease is very rare, but Sarah Moore, a solicitor at Leigh Day law firm, believes there are more cases than the regulator is aware of. “I think there has been misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis, and I think we have to bear in mind that in the last 18 months there have been 17 more reported cases of ALCL,” she said.

The leading manufacturer of textured implants, Allergan, has withdrawn them from worldwide sale. In December 2018 its European kitemark for the implants expired – the French agency that had granted certification had asked for extra safety data that the company said it could not provide in time. They have not been on sale in Europe since then. The US authorities asked the company to recall its textured implants in July 2019 and Allergan took them off the market.

France and Australia have since banned the sales of all textured implants, although neither has suggested that women should actively seek to have them removed.

In the UK, other brands of textured implants are still in use. Neither NHS England, the NHS Business Services Authority nor the MHRA could say how many had been given to women in the NHS after a mastectomy for breast cancer.

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Source: The Guardian, 7 January 2020


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