Matthew Perrone, Associated Press: January 5, 2012.
[…] FDA concluded last summer that the silicone-gel implants are basically safe as long as women understand they come with complications. More than one in five women who get implants for breast enhancement will need to have them replaced within five years, the agency’s report concluded.
In August, an outside panel of physicians affirmed the FDA’s decision that the devices should remain available for both breast enhancement and reconstruction.
But the National Research Center for Women and Families says the FDA did not present information that showed women reported lower emotional, mental and physical well-being after implantation. Additionally, the group questions why figures presented by the FDA appear to show implant complications declining over time. The implants are known to fail over time.
“This shows problems with the data, since the complication rates are reported to be cumulative and should therefore stay the same or increase over time,” states Diana Zuckerman, the group’s president, in a letter to the head of FDA’s medical device division.
Most of the FDA’s data on the safety and effectiveness of breast implants comes from long-term studies conducted by the two U.S. manufacturers of the devices, Allergan Inc. of Irvine, Calif., and Mentor, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J.
When the FDA reviewed the initial applications for the devices in 2005, women using Allergan’s implants scored lower on nine out of 12 quality-of-life measures, including mental, social and general health. Women did report higher scores on measures of sexual attractiveness-body esteem.
Women implanted with J&J’s implants also scored worse on measures of physical and mental health. In the 11-page letter, Zuckerman questions why that information was not presented at FDA’s public meeting in August.
“Breast implants are widely advertised and promoted as a way to increase women’s self-esteem and positive feelings about themselves,” said Zuckerman, in an interview with the Associated Press. “But the implant companies’ own data, which the FDA made public in 2005 but ignored last year, shows the opposite.” […]
Breast implants are known to rupture and break down over time. But Zuckerman points out in her letter that the company data seem to defy this trend, with complication rates falling over time.
For instance, Allergan’s reported rate of swelling among patients fell from 23 percent in 2005 to 9 percent reported in 2011. Rates of scarring similarly fell from 8 percent to 4 percent.
“This again raises questions about the accuracy of reporting, and whether patients with complications were excluded from the 10-year sample,” writes Zuckerman. […]
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