Company Founder Makes Court Appearance in Breast-Implant Case

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PARIS -- The founder of a French company accused of selling hundreds of thousands of defective breast implants to more than 65 countries appeared on Wednesday in a courthouse in Marseille, with more than 300 victims in attendance.

The founder, Jean-Claude Mas, and four of his former employees are accused of aggravated fraud after their company, Poly Implants Prothèses, used an inferior, industrial-grade silicone to fill implants for a decade. The trial is expected to last a month. If convicted, Mr. Mas and his colleagues could face up to five years in prison.

The company, founded in 1991, was closed by the French authorities in March 2010. In 2012, Mr. Mas acknowledged that he had used a cheaper, unapproved product, but argued that it was not harmful. The implants ruptured at a much higher rate than the industry norm, leaking silicone into body tissues.

Many health authorities have failed to find evidence that the leakage causes cancer, but after a Frenchwoman whose implant had ruptured died from a rare cancer called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, several countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands urged women to have the implants removed. About 300,000 women received them around the world. The implants were not approved for sale in the United States.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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