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Legal action over textured breast implants

Law firm Leigh Day have confirmed that they are taking legal action on behalf of 20 women which have developed a breast implant-associated lymphoma linked to Allergan textured breast implants.

Linzy Bromfield talking to the BBC

16 August 2019

According to the latest data over 50 women have been diagnosed with the cancer in the UK, and it is believed that there have been hundreds more diagnosed worldwide.

One of those taking the legal action is Linzy Bromfield who had breast implants in 2005. She developed a rare lymphoma 13 years after breast implant surgery. She first noticed that her right breast had become so swollen she was unable to wear her bra. She was later diagnosed with implant-associated lymphoma.

She told the BBC: "I cried, really cried. I was angry and hurt. I couldn't really take it in at first. I was worried I was going to die. "I think when you hear that word 'cancer' you think, am I going to die?"

Linzy had both of her implants removed and has been free of disease since this procedure.

The MHRA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which regulates medical devices in the UK, is currently collecting data on women affected by breast implant associated-anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

Nigel Mercer, a plastic surgeon and chair of an advisory group of surgeons monitoring cases of the cancer for the MHRA, told the BBC: "The same type of implant has been around for 30 years but we only started seeing this as a disease recently, so it looks like it's a genuinely new disease."

However, Sarah Moore from law firm Leigh Day who is part of the team representing the women disputes this, she said: “The first instance of BIA-ALCL was recorded in the academic literature in 1997, and between 1997-2010 there were 20 different academic articles published referencing the fact of BIA-ALCL and alerting surgeons and regulators to this issue.

“The UK Breast Implant Registry was not established until October 2016 and did not produce its first report until November 2018. “Both the MHRA and NHS Data, the body responsible for monitoring the Breast Implant Registry, recognise that there has been no comprehensive facility for the collection of data concerning instances of BIA-ALCL in the UK and that many clinicians have not had the knowledge to provide clear advice and diagnostic confirmation to patients.

“In that context – what we are seeing is perhaps not a ‘genuinely new disease’ but the moment at which regulators and clinicians are acknowledging the fact of a man-made disease that has gone underdiagnosed and underreported for too long.”

The women are taking legal action against surgeons and manufacturers. They want recovery for the costs of the implants and their removal, and compensation for personal injury, distress and any potential financial loss they suffered. Letters Before Action are being sent to relevant parties this month by Leigh Day.

Zahra Nanji, from Leigh Day, told the BBC: "I really do believe strongly that the manufacturers, producers and distributors of these implants need to take responsibility."

Manufacturer Allergan said patient safety was a priority and it would support informative labelling "to promote and advance the safest use of breast implant products".

It has issued a voluntary worldwide recall of Biocell saline-filled and silicone-filled textured breast implants and tissue expanders.

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