Czech ministry urges removal of French implants

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The Czech health ministry said on Friday that up to 2,000 Czech women who received French breast implants that have sparked a global health scare should have them removed.

"All patients are recommended to have the implants removed at the clinic where they received them," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Women who refuse to remove the defective French-made Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) brand implants should undergo regular annual checks, it said.

Fears over the implants spread around the world last month after French health authorities advised 30,000 women to have their PIP implants removed because of an increased risk of rupture.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 women in 65 countries from Europe to Latin America are believed to have implants made with sub-standard silicone gel PIP used to cut its costs.

"Available sources show almost 3,000 (PIP) implants have been used in the Czech Republic, in about 50 health facilities," the ministry said.

Breast cancer survivors often receive only one implant in the reconstruction of a breast lost to the disease.

The Czech pharmaceuticals market watchdog SUKL said it had so far registered no "undesirable events" linked to the PIP implants, which were available on the Czech market from 2002 to 2010, when the SUKL withdrew them following a warning from its French counterpart.

French officials have said that cancer, including 16 cases of breast cancer, has been detected in 20 French women with the implants but have insisted there is no proven link with the disease.

The Czech health ministry said that "no acute risk of serious health problems has been detected in patients with the implants," citing "available analyses."

It added the coverage of the replacements would be discussed with health insurers.

The country's largest health insurer, the state-run VZP, said it would pay the costs of the removal for breast cancer survivors but not for women who had the implants for cosmetic purposes.

"The insurer covers this surgery only for health reasons, not for aesthetic purposes," VZP spokesman Jiri Rod told AFP.

© 2012 AFP

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