Business, Economics and Jobs

French breast implant trial starts today


A picture taken on April 10, 2011 shows employees of breast implant maker Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) demonstrating in front of their factory in southern France.


Anne-Christine Poujoulat

After selling leaky, dangerous breast implants to more than 300,000 women around the world, Jean-Claude Mas finally faced some of his victims in court today. Mas, the founder of French company, Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), had previously dismissed the women suing him  as "fragile people, or people who are doing this for money."

Now, he and four other PIP executives stand trial for aggravated fraud and face up to five years in jail if convicted.  A total of 5,127 victims have joined the lawsuit. The trial is being held in a convention center in France.

Nathalie De Michel, who received the implants, pointed out that many of the women who received the toxic implants could have been breast cancer survivors.

More from GlobalPost:  Czech women with PIP breast implants told to have them removed (VIDEO)

"We have the impression that he doesn't care,"  she told the Associated Press. "I want him at least to recognize that he made mistakes. When you fight against cancer, you fight to survive, and if after they put some garbage in your body, what's the point of fighting for life?"

PIP was once the third biggest global supplier of breast implants. But in 2010, doctors noticed that the implants had an abnormally high rupture rate. Authorities then discovered that PIP had been use using an illegal, homemade mixture of industrial-grade and agricultural silicone. The cheaper silicone saved the company a couple million dollars a year,  the Guardian reported.

In December 2011, the French health ministry advised women with PIP implants to have them removed, and a separate investigation was opened following the 2010 cancer death of a woman with PIP implants.