Europe

Breast implants: French boss sought 'for drunk driving'

Jean-Claude Mas with a breast implant
Image caption Jean-Claude Mas is currently staying in south-eastern France, reports say

Interpol says the founder of a French firm at the centre of a global breast implants scare is wanted in Costa Rica over a drunk driving charge.

The international police agency posted a "red notice" for Jean-Claude Mas, 72, over an alleged incident in June 2010.

Interpol said the notice was "totally unconnected" with Mr Mas's Poly Implant Prothese company.

Earlier, France advised 30,000 women to remove faulty breast implants made by the firm.

It said there was no proven cancer risk but they could rupture dangerously.

'Recent controversy'

In a statement on its website, Interpol said it could "only state that the criminal charge underlying the Interpol Red Notice relates to the local charge in Costa Rica of drunk driving which allegedly occurred in June 2010 and for which the penalty, if convicted, is three years imprisonment".

It said the notice had been published in June 2011 "but has only generated international interest because of the recent controversy surrounding Mr Jean-Claude Mas and the potential health risk to women allegedly posed by his company's breast implants".

Interpol - which posted two police mugshots of Mr Mas - said Costa Rica wanted to alert other Interpol member countries that Mr Mas was wanted for arrest and that it was prepared to seek his extradition if he was arrested in a third country.

"Interpol has never launched an 'international manhunt' for Mr Jean-Claude Mas for the above charge or any other charge," Interpol added.

A lawyer for PIP told Reuters earlier on Friday that Mr Mas was in the south-eastern Var region of France and intended to stay there.

Yves Haddad added that Mr Mas had not spoken out publicly on the implants scandal out of "decency and discretion".

Women around the world have PIP's implants, however most of them live in South America and Western Europe.

The French health ministry says women with PIP implants do not have a higher risk of cancer than women with implants made by other companies, but says there are "well-established risks of ruptures".

Health Minister Xavier Bertrand urged French women to have the implants removed as a "preventive measure," but said that it was not "urgent."

The corrective surgery will be paid for out of public health funds but the French state will only pay for a new implant if the treatment was done as part of reconstructive surgery following breast cancer.

If women do not want to have their implants removed, the state will pay for six-monthly ultrasound scans.

The UK medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), says France has reported rupture rates of around 5% for PIP implants, compared with 1% in the UK.

Eight cases of cancer have been reported in women with the implants but the French authorities say these are not necessarily linked to faulty implants.

PIP went into administration last year and the use of its implants was banned.

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