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Permanent Implantable Devices Require More Pre-Approval Testing

March 26, 2019


Permanent Implantable Devices Require More Pre-Approval Testing

Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe Will Urge the FDA to Stop Allowing Women to Be Treated Like Guinea Pigs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must require extensive pre-approval testing of permanent implantable devices, including breast implants, Public Citizen will tell the FDA’s General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee today.

Breast implants have caused many serious medical conditions in women, including scarring, pain and hardening of the breasts when the implants rupture and leak silicone gel. This also can cause an unusual type of cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma and have been linked to autoimmune diseases.

“These post-approval trials to obtain information that should have been derived before, not after approval remind us why much more extensive mandatory pre-approval testing on such permanently implanted devices is necessary,” Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will tell the panel. “Otherwise, women, in this case – and both genders, in too many other cases – are serving as unwitting guinea pigs.”

Public Citizen has raised concerns since 1973 about serious health problems linked to breast implants. In 1988 and 1991, Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to ban silicone gel breast implants because of concerns about implant rupture, other local reactions, possible carcinogenicity and autoimmune diseases. The FDA removed silicone gel-filled breast implants from the market in 1992 but in 2006 allowed them to be sold again under the condition that manufacturers conduct post-approval studies to assess their long-term safety.

The FDA itself has said, “Poor compliance and changes in surgical practice over time have produced results difficult to interpret in a generalized manner much less with the precision needed to deliver personalized patient care.”

Read the full testimony (PDF).