Australia to investigate French breast implant risks

CANBERRA - Australia's medical regulator will on Wednesday launch an investigation into health risks faced by 4,500 Australian women who received silicon breast implants manufactured by a French company accused of using defective material.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, which approves and monitors health-related products, said it would meet with expert advisers to look at the risks posed by the implants .

"TGA is actively working on the concerns raised about Poly Implant Prothese SA (PIP) implants and is reviewing the available information on rupture rates for all breast implants,"a TGA spokeswoman said.

The investigation is part of a global health scare following the death from cancer last year of a French woman using the implants made by the now-defunct PIP.

Around 300,000 women around the world bought implants made by PIP, which went bankrupt in 2010 after an official investigation revealed it was using a cheaper, unapproved industrial-grade silicone in some of its products.

Australian health authorities said information on the implants has not been readily forthcoming from French regulatory authorities as a criminal investigation into the implants was underway in France.

But PIP-manufactured implants had been tested in Australia for shell strength in July 2010 with no problems detected, and it was unclear if any substandard implants supplied by PIP had been supplied in Australia.