Selling Defective Breasts

A court in Marseille, France, sentenced the founder of a French company on Tuesday to four years in prison for selling hundreds of thousands of defective breast implants in more than 65 countries.

Jean-Claude Mas, 74, the founder of Poly Implant Proth├Ęse, and four of his former employees were found guilty last spring of aggravated fraud after their company used a less expensive, industrial-grade silicone to fill implants for a decade. The implants ruptured at a much higher rate than the industry norm, leaking silicone into body tissues.

During the trial, which involved 7,400 civil plaintiffs and 300 lawyers, Mr. Mas acknowledged that his company had used a cheaper, unapproved product in its implants, but he argued that it was not harmful.

More than 16,000 women have had their implants removed since the scandal emerged in 2010. Poly Implant Proth├Ęse, which was founded in 1991, was closed by the French authorities in March 2010.

In addition to imposing the maximum prison sentence on Mr. Mas, the court ordered him to pay a fine of 75,000 euros, or $103,000, and sentenced his former employees to between 18 months and three years in prison. Some of those sentences were suspended. Yves Haddad, Mr. Mas’s lawyer, said that his client would appeal.

Last month a French court ordered a German quality-control company to pay $4,000 each to 1,600 women who received defective breast implants made by PIP. The German company, TUV Rheinland, was accused of granting European Union safety certificates to the defective implants.

About 300,000 women around the world received the implants, which were not approved for sale in the United States.

A breast implant is a prosthesis used to correct the size, form, and texture of a woman’s breast; in plastic surgery, breast implants are applied for post–mastectomy breast reconstruction; for correcting congenital defects and deformities of the chest wall; for aesthetic breast augmentation; and for creating breasts in the male-to-female transsexual patient.

There are three general types of breast implant devices, defined by their filler material: saline solution, silicone gel, and composite filler. The saline implant has an elastomer silicone shell filled with sterile saline solution; the silicone implant has an elastomer silicone shell filled with viscous silicone gel; and the alternative composition implants featured miscellaneous fillers, such as soy oil, polypropylene string.

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