A defective silicone gel breast implant.
A defective silicone gel breast implant manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) is seen near surgical instruments after being removed from a patient. REUTERS

The Commons Health Committee which looked into the PIP Breast Implant scandal has pointed out that there was no sense of urgency in responding to the health scare on the part of the authorities.

The MPs said that the health regulator and the government took more than 20 months to initiate urgent action to communicate and collect evidence about the affected women.

Though the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued warnings to surgeons in March 2010 against the use of the PIP implants, no awareness campaign was launched to trace the affected women.

MPs pointed out that the campaign to trace the affected women gained momentum only in December 2011, when the French government advised the removal of the implants.

The Commons Health Committee also pointed out that the NHS stance in England of not allowing the replacement of the implants, if it was done through private clinics, will lead to women undergoing two procedures.

"It flies in the face of common sense to put women through two procedures when one will do," the BBC quoted Health Committee Chairman Stephen Dorrell as saying.

Moreover, the current system requires the patient to pay nearly £1,500 for replacement on the NHS unless it was supported by their private clinic. It may force many women to opt against going for the removal.

"If we allowed patients to pay for treatment in this case, it would set a precedent for other treatments and cosmetic surgery. The responsibility for this sits squarely with private providers," the BBC quoted Health Minister Lord Howe as saying.

In the UK, up to 50,000 women are believed to be under health risk involving the use of faulty breast implants manufactured by the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).

The PIP implants contain industrial-grade silicone and have a higher risk of rupturing.

Also read: 100 Faulty Breast Implants Removed so far