May 19, 2024

Jean-Claude Mas, Founder of Breast Implant Firm, Is Detained

The founder, Jean-Claude Mas, was detained in a dawn raid on the home of his companion in the town of Six-Fours les-Plages, an official with the Marseille prosecutor’s office said. Mr. Mas’s former deputy, Claude Couty, was also arrested. Mr. Mas’s lawyer was advising him during questioning Thursday morning and could not be reached for comment, his office said.

The company Mr. Mas founded, Poly Implants Prothèses, was closed by the authorities in March 2010 and liquidated, following revelations that it had used industrial-grade silicone, not surgical grade, to save money. The implants have proved more likely to rupture or leak, allowing the inferior silicone to seep into the body.

The official, who could not be identified in accordance with department rules, said the arrests were a part of a manslaughter investigation that began in December, after the death from a rare form of cancer of a woman after her P.I.P. implants ruptured. Her death set off a wave of anxiety for the tens of thousands of women around the world who have received the implants, though health experts have said the silicone carries no known cancer link.

Mr. Mas has acknowledged using the unapproved product, telling investigators that it was cheaper, but of higher quality than the surgical-grade material.

French prosecutors typically file charges only after an initial informal phase of investigation is completed. Mr. Mas, who is also the subject of additional investigations related to the implants, has not been charged with any crime.

Officials in the dozens of countries to which the they were exported have issued conflicting advice about what action women with the implants should take.

French health officials have recommended that the implants be removed because the gel can irritate body tissues and cause inflammation. German and Czech have concurred.

But in Britain and several other countries, officials have said only that women with the implants should be monitored and that no action is necessary so long as the devices remain intact.

This month, Brazilian authorities ordered the country’s public health system and health insurance companies to pay for the replacement of all the ruptured breast implants made in France. South America imported more than 80 percent of the implants made by P.I.P.

Last month, the Venezuelan government last month urged women with PIP implants to see their doctors to ensure they are intact, and said the state would pay for their removal if necessary. But it will not pay to replace them.

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