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I knew our silcone was inferior, admits breast implant chief

The head of the breast implant manufacturer at the centre of a health scare affecting hundreds of thousands of women worldwide has admitted he used a cheaper unapproved product because of "economic objectives".

Jean-Claude Mas, head of the now defunct Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), said the company supplied two tiers of product for silicone implants, a highend product and a cheaper "house gel".

The basic product "did not formally receive approval, and in this regard there was a violation of regulations", Mr Mas admitted through his lawyer Yves Haddad yesterday. He said the company never sought the approval of AFSSAPS, France's health regulator, for its implants.

"Why did this company use this kind of product? Because it was a corporation with economic objectives and because of corporate management that tried to get the best cost," he told The Times.

However, Mr Mas still insists that despite their lower quality, the implants are safe. "PIP knew it wasn't in compliance, but it wasn't a toxic product," the lawyer said. "The fact that it's an irritant (when ruptured) is the same for all silicone gels," he told AFP.

Some 300,000 PIP implants, which contain industrial instead of medical-grade silicone, have been sold worldwide. The French government has advised 30,000 women in France to have the implants removed. Around 40,000 British women with the implants have been told by Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, that they "should not be unduly worried". She is advising against the routine removal of the implants.