An upside to the European PIP breast implant scandal?

May 3, 2012 by MassDevice staff

Far from scaring patients away from breast enhancement, the scandal over substandard silicone in French breast implants preceded a spike in European sales for at least one U.S. company.

breast implants

Far from chilling the breast aesthetics market, the widespread breast implant recall in Europe may have an upside for device makers as patients opt to replace their potentially rupture-prone implants.

When French breast modification company Poly Implant Prosthèse was caught filling its breast implants with substandard silicone, rival implant makers took pains to distance themselves from the scandal for fear of being tangled in a PR nightmare.

Both Allergan (NYSE:AGN) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary Mentor Worldwide issued statements ensuring doctors and patients that their products were not part of the investigation and that the companies have no affiliation with PIP.

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"Silicone gel-filled breast implants are among the most studied medical devices in existence, with more than 3,000 peer-reviewed and published reports on studies, including robust epidemiological studies, supporting their safe use," according to a December 2011 Allergan press release. "Gel-filled breast implants are safe and effective when used as intended."

News of the recall and the subsequent uproar led to criminal investigations, clinical studies and, apparently, a slew of revision surgeries. By the time the news made it to the U.S. late last year, surgeons had already explanted 523 PIP breast implants and 2,000 woman had filed complaints.