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Hundreds of women to have implants replaced

Hundreds of Irish women will undergo surgery to remove and replace PIP breast implants over the next few months as worrying new research has shown the rupture rate is far higher than first thought.

Cork solicitor John McCarthy, who is representing more than 50 of the 1,500 Irish women estimated to have faulty implants, said that they all wanted the implants removed as soon as possible.

He added that the levels of anxiety among affected women was alarming and that most were trying to figure out how to finance replacement surgery as soon as possible.

The 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported yesterday that three times as many Australian women have had PIP breast implants rupture than was first suggested.

The Australian medicines watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, warned that the number of women affected by the faulty devices will rise.

The agency initially received 37 unconfirmed reports that implants made by the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) had leaked.

However, that figure has been revised upwards to 102 confirmed cases and 14 unconfirmed.

The Public Health Association of Australia predicted the rupture rate would rise dramatically, with chief executive Michael Moore stating that as the standard breast implant rupture rate was one in 10 over 10 years, the estimated number of women affected by leaking PIP implants would climb to more than 1,200.

Solicitor Mr McCarthy said the Irish Medicines Board figure from December of around 1,500 Irish women being affected was still valid.

He added: "Of these, 878 of that number received the implants after surgeries conducted by clinicians employed by the Harley Medical Group.

Mr McCarthy said the overwhelming desire among women who were affected was to have their implants replaced.

"Some of them have had scans as a result of the furore which began in December which have confirmed ruptures.

"Others who have had scans which do not show ruptures are still adamant that they want these things out because of fears they could rupture at some time in the future," he said.

There is no facility for a class action here in Ireland so the legal landscape is unclear. "There may be a wider European dimension to it. The first thing is to analyse for each individual woman what their rights are under Irish law, Mr McCarthy said.

"If it's the case that they have a difficulty in terms of domestic law, then we will look further afield," he said.

He admitted that the legal process could take years.

"What we are looking at here without a shadow of a doubt, having regard to the deep levels of anxiety I have found among women, is that they will find money to finance replacement themselves -- and then pursue the appropriate person or entity.

"If you are sitting back and waiting for someone to offer to indemnify you, you will be waiting a long time," he said.

Sunday Independent