The international police agency Interpol are seeking the arrest of the boss of a French company whose breast implants are at the centre of an international health scare.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the man who ran the Poly Implant Protheses (PIP) company, which has been the center of a string of scandals relating to breast implants, is wanted for crimes involving "life and health".
Jean-Claude Mas, 72, former owner of the French company, is wanted by Costa Rican authorities which has triggered to issue a "red notice" for the arrest of Mr Mas. A red notice is the highest level of notice issued by the French based Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) and is, in effect, an international arrest warrant.
The health scare relates to the risk that the implants could rupture and cause leakage of industrial-grade silicone into women's bodies. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) issued a notice in banning PIP implants, which reflected the ban imposed in most other countries. Although there were reports of am link to cancer the reason for the ban was due to the implants containing non-medical grade silicone gel (intended for use in mattresses) and the fact that there was a risk of rupture.
A report issued by the AFP news agency recounts that more than 300,000 implants are believed to have been sold globally by PIP over the last 12 years in some 65 countries (half of the exports were distributed to South America, including to Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile).
In France, the French government is offering to cover the costs for up to 30,000 women to have their implants removed. The BBC notes that 5% of women who are French citizens have experienced implants rupturing.
The willingness of the French authorities to remove the implants has caused debate within the UK, as Sky News reports. It is estimated that up to 50,000 British women have had the implants fitted. However, the UK Department of Health does not consider the risk to be as great as the French authorities are claiming. Any British women seeking to have the implants removed will have to do so at their own expense.
This has lead to some 270 women in the UK starting the process to sue the clinics where they were fitted with PIP implants. Any measures against PIP itself are uncertain as the company went into liquidation.
The fact that so many women around the world received substandard implants made from materials which were not of a medical grade and for which there is a chance that they might leak, is a major scandal which puts into question not just the company which manufactured them but the dozens of surgical centers which purchased them.