France

PIP staff reveal cover-up over silicone in breast implants

Enfermeira exibe prótese de silicone defeituosa da marca PIP.
Enfermeira exibe prótese de silicone defeituosa da marca PIP. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

The culture of Omertà among employees at the French company which made faulty breast implants meant that thousands of women around the world were affected before the true scale of malpractice at the company was exposed, according to French daily Libération.

Advertising

The newspaper details how the boss of PIP, Jean-Claude Mas, claims he paid the German company Tüv Rheinland to speed up the procedure necessary to gain EU certification for his products.

He told police in Marseilles, where he is now at the centre of a criminal investigation, “I did the same as everybody else, I paid a company to get the the CE stamp”

After obtaining the CE stamp of approval, for six months PIP manufactured implants using approved gel, but soon began to use sub-standard gel in order to cut production costs.

The person in charge of quality control, 35 year old Hannelore, told police that Mas and representatives from Tüv consulted with each other to choose dates for inspections, and that Mas made sure that special arrangements were put in place for those inspections.

Vincent Schuhl the Managing director of the French branch of Tüv now insists “an audit is not about uncovering organised fraud”.

The fraudulent practices were indeed well-organised at PIP, according to what employees are now telling police.

Jean-Claude Mas ordered staff to dispose of cans of non-authorised products in a special place, sometimes telling them to put the cans in a lorry which was then driven away by his son.

The person in charge of computer records was told to remove all information concerning certain suppliers from the database and re insert it after the audit.

A simple check, notes Libération, would have revealed that PIP did not buy enough quality silicone to manufacture the 80,000 to 100,000 implants per year. Between December 2003 and October 2005 PIP did not order any approved quality silicone at all.

The quality control officer says that Mas had a USB in his pocket containing falsified invoices and order forms, but she said they were not used because Tüv never asked to see paperwork and never carried out any tests.

In May and December of 2006, two groups of victims whose implants ruptured sued PIP in England and the company was ordered to pay 2.3 million euros in damages.

More and more cases came to light, and in November 2009 Hannelore refused to sign off on the products.

“Rather late to have an attack of conscience” says Yves Haddad, lawyer for Jean-Claude Mas.

 

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning