Jeremy Laurance: The regulator needs to recover its grip, fast

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Whatever the true risks and benefits of these implants, this does not inspire confidence in the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the body charged with ensuring medical devices are safe. Why did it take a television programme and the British Medical Journal to prod it into action over this latest threat?

Coming weeks after the breast implant scare, it has raised more charges of regulatory failure. During that investigation, in which it was revealed more than 40,000 British women had received the French-made PIP implants, containing industrial-grade silicone, it emerged that the MHRA was unable to calculate the rupture rate.

Now it is accused of downplaying the risks from metal-on-metal hip implants because it was overly influenced by commercial interests on its panel.

These accusations may be unfair. But the impression created by these events is of a regulator which has lost its grip. It needs to recover it, fast.

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