5000 women head to court over faulty breast implant claim

A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman
A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman

Some 5,000 women in the Netherlands have signed up for a class action case against pharmaceuticals firm Abbvie to claim damages for their faulty breast implants.

Women’s legal aid organisation Bureau Clara Wichmann is taking the case to court in the coming week, and says the total claim could mount up to €900 million because a further 55,000 women also had the implants, broadcaster NOS reported.

The case centres on ‘textured’ implants named Biocell or Natrelle which were manufactured by Allergan, later taken over by Abbvie. The implants are known to give women a higher risk of developing a rare form of lymphoma known as Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma.

The foundation is demanding damages to pay for the cost of removing the implants and breast reconstruction. In addition, the foundation wants damages to cover the pain and suffering the operation will cause.

The health service inspectorate says removal is not necessary but that if women notice changes, they should contact a doctor.

The likelihood of developing the cancer remains very low and in the Netherlands there have been 90 cases, NOS said.

The implants have not been used in the Netherlands since 2018 and Allergan removed them from sale in 2019.

The case will kick off in Amsterdam with written proceedings. ‘If you try and take on a pharmaceuticals company alone you will get blown away,’ said the foundation’s director Anniek de Ruijter. ‘Together we are stronger and have a better chance of success.’

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