LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday a group of experts had concluded there was no need for the routine removal of breast implants made by a now defunct French company at the heart of a global health scare.
However, the government said concerned women who had received implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) through the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) could have these removed and replaced with the operation paid for by the NHS.
It added it expected private health providers to make the same offer.
The French government has advised 30,000 women in France who bought implants from PIP to have them removed after concerns since the death from cancer last year of a French woman carrying PIP implants.
“Our advice remains the same that there is not sufficient evidence to recommend routine removal,” British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said in a statement.
“We believe that private healthcare providers have a moral duty to offer the same service to their patients that we will offer to NHS patients - free information, consultations, scans and removal if necessary.”
About 300,000 PIP implants were sold worldwide before the firm went out of business last year after an official probe revealed it was using a cheaper unapproved industrial-grade silicone in some of it products.
An estimated 40,000 British women have been fitted with the implants.
The UK expert group review said it had found no link between the implants and cancer, but had not been able to establish if the PIP implants were more likely to rupture than others, saying information from the industry to the regulator was patchy.
“Reports show that, of the PIP implants that have been tested, there is no risk of dangerous toxins leaking into the body if an implant did rupture,” the Department of Health said in a statement.
“However, we are not confident that the manufacturer did not change the silicone in the implants, so cannot rule out the possibility that some are toxic.”
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Keith Weir