November 9, 2006 (39th Parliament, 1st Session)


Nicole Demers

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Nicole Demers (Laval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on June 9, I asked the Minister of Health why he refused to allow people to get AIDS drugs under the special access program, yet he allowed thousands of silicone breast implants under the same type of program.
Since then, the Minister of Health has approved licences for two companies, Mentor Medical Systems and Inamed Corporation, to manufacture silicone breast implants, which had been banned since 1992, and to put them back on the market, when we know full well that no long-term study has been done beforehand to ensure that these breast implants are not harmful to women's health.
We have been told that the minister had assessed 65,000 pages of studies and research that had been reviewed by Health Canada. However, most of these documents were provided by companies seeking the approvals.
We truly wonder how we can trust two companies that faced a criminal investigation in 2002 for hiding data from the FDA. Mentor Medical Systems is currently facing new allegations that it provided fraudulent data, according to a scientist it formerly employed. This investigation began just two weeks ago. Furthermore, neither the minister nor Health Canada are able to name a single independent researcher among the studies consulted.
Ms. Bell, head of the musculoskeletal section at Health Canada, gave us the name of Dr. Harold Brandon. The problem is that the doctor is one of the four scientists on the expert advisory panel who was in conflict of interest.
Many women today are still having problems with their implants. I receive emails, letters and phone calls every day. A young woman from Quebec named Michelle, who is only 24, suffers from acute pain. She turned to a surgeon for implants because her breasts were not the same size. The surgeon did not warn her of the problems she could encounter. He did not tell her that he had to ask for special permission from Health Canada. But he did tell her that silicone gel implants would give her the best results. She later suffered capsular contracture and must now undergo further surgery to have the implants removed. She must pay for this herself, and it is expensive. It costs $5,000.
Lise, from Laval, who had her implants removed, has chronic health problems. Rose-Hélène, from Laval, suffers from Raynaud's disease and fibromyalgia. Lucienne, from Laval, has pain in her arms and back, even after having her implants removed because they were stuck to her rib cage. They cracked and got stuck.
There are currently two class action suits: one in Quebec and one in Ontario. We want to know how the Minister of Health can spend taxpayer dollars to defend his view of things in class actions suits, when he will not pay for women to have an MRI or to have emergency removal of their implants.
We find this is a shameful use of public money, of money that comes from every citizen who pays taxes. We would like to know whether the minister intends at least to impose strict conditions on the companies who have received authorization to produce breast implants again, or—

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
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