Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Breast Implantation; where is the Medical Honesty?

What can we learn from this, the latest scandel arising within the world of ConMed? The issue of breast implantation has hit the headlines following news that French-made PIP implants were made with 'industrial' rather than 'medical' quality silicone, and that they rupture more easily than they should.

The main lesson, perhaps, is that it is difficult for patients to obtain the truth, or even full information, from the ConMed Establishment, and the governments and mainstream media who appear slavishly to support it.

The initial reaction of the UK government was that 'there was no problem'. Is there any more typical response to a medical scandal? Whenever there has been evidence that a Big Pharma drug, or a conventional medical procedure, might be dangerous, this is almost invariably the first response. "There is no evidence". "People should not be alarmed".

Within a matter of days, the UK government had changed its tone. Instead of a 1% failure rate, they had to admit that the failure rate was closer to 7-8%. It would appear that government was prepared to pour balm over health problems - even when it was not in possession of the full facts!

Indeed, there seems always to be a point at which the game of 'Russian Roulette' with our health becomes too dangerous - even for Government! As long as drugs, medical procedures, implants, etc., cause damage or death to just a small number, this appears to be acceptable. Beyond that point, however, they are forced to ask questions, slowly, tentatively, of course, whilst more 'reviews' are held!

Yet, this is perhaps nothing compared to the information given to the women who sought, and accepted these breast implants. Most of those who have spoken to the media tell a similar story - they were told that the silicone implants were safe, and rarely if ever ruptured. In the main, this procedure is carried out in private, for profit, clinics, who, of course, have a vested interest in providing women with such re-assurance. Whether these clinics are going to be as willing to accept responsibility now so many of these implants have, indeed, ruptured remains to be seen.

So was the information given to women honest? Did the clinics know that this manufacturer was not using medical-grade silicone? Probably not, as the French company selling them would have realised they would not have sold many had they done so. It was not in their interests to tell the clinics. So why did they use industrial-grade silicone? Was there no medical-grade silicone available? Or was it just because it was cheaper to do so, and so boosted company profits?

Anyway, it seems clear that private, for profit, health interests have dominated these medical procedures. The question is, has honest, full, transparent information for patients suffered as a result? There seems to be little doubt about this.

Moreover, there is little difference between this situation, and the ongoing sale of all ConMed drugs, and other medical procedures - as they are promoted by the National Health Service, and supported by Governments of all colours. In these health care matters, we, as patients, are dealing with enormously important, immensely influential, and frighteningly powerful private interests. And it would appear that profit is of central, over-riding importance. Our health, too often, appears to be a secondary consideration - regardless of whether we deal with private clinics, or the NHS, or indeed rely on Government and its agencies to tell us the truth about conventional medicine.

So perhaps the main lesson to be learnt is that we all have to be weary about what we are told about conventional medicine; that we need to question whether the information given to us is full, open and honest: or whether we are listening to the vested interests of a powerful medical establishment.