Yorkshire and the Humber Labour MEP, Linda McAvan, will call for an advertising ban on cosmetic breast implant surgery in the European Parliament tonight, ahead of a vote on a report which responds to the breast implant scandal.
It is estimated that 40,000 British women were given the faulty implants which were manufactured by a company called PIP, who used industrial grade silicone, rather than the necessary medical grade silicone. PIP manufactured the defective implants for years and is thought to have sold over 300,000 of them across the world.
New rules to govern the manufacturing and testing of medical devices implanted into humans are set to be agreed later this year, with the European Parliament setting out some of its views on the changes needed in the breast implant report which goes before MEPs on Thursday. Linda will also seek to win a vote which could introduce a ban on the advertisement of cosmetic surgery implants across the UK and the rest of the EU.
Linda said: “A common thread that this scandal has highlighted is just how casually cosmetic surgery is presented. Anyone who has flicked through the back of a women’s magazine will know the prevalence of advertising for cosmetic surgery. There is very little attempt to explain the extent of various procedures or that some operations, breast implants for example, are a life-long commitment that will require continued surgery, whether it is to replace them as they wear out or to remove them entirely. I checked the websites of some leading cosmetic surgery companies where even the FAQ section on breast implants does not mention repeat surgery. Many women who have undergone cosmetic surgery report they were given little advice or warnings about what they were signing their bodies up for or indeed the financial implications involved in repeated surgery.
“Prescription drugs cannot be advertised within the EU and even over the counter drugs are required to list any potential side-effects and describe accurately what their product does. It is deeply worrying that cosmetic surgery, running to thousands of pounds and which in some cases will inevitably require repeated operations, has to only meet the same advertising standards as moisturising cream.
“A ban on advertising cosmetic surgery already exists in Belgium and France and is supported by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. Even if the ban is not introduced I hope the fact this issue has been raised will at least spark a debate on the regulation of cosmetic surgery advertising.”
The European Parliament report is called Resolution on defective silicone breast implants made by French company PIP
The report calls for:
• Stricter inspections of manufacturers and random sampling of devices on the market.
• A shift to pre-market authorisation for medical devices that go into the body, which is currently how pharmaceuticals are authorised in the EU.
• The introduction of a compulsory national breast implant register which all clinics and hospitals must report to.
• The establishment of a traceability system for implants with a patient passport, so if problems with devices are discovered the people who have received them can be traced easily (working out exactly who had received defective PIP breast implants proved impossible because no system was in place).
Another recent medical device issue in Britain was with large head metal-on-metal hip replacements which were found in some cases to rub enough to cause traces of the metal to leak into blood and tissue and cause complications.
UK campaign group Feminista have also called for a ban on cosmetic surgery advertising. For more click here.