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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2895

(Question No. 1352)

Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services, upon notice, on 17 October 1991:

  With reference to the `Four Corners' program screened by the ABC on Monday, 14 October 1991, which questioned the safety of silicone implants for women and also the question of such implants, which have become unpopular in the United States, being dumped on other countries:

  (1) How many Australian women have received silicone implants.

  (2) Are Australian women still receiving silicone implants.

  (3) What screening do the implants receive before they are inserted into Australian women.

  (4) What safeguards are in place, if any, to protect women from `bleeding' or leaking from silicone implants.

  (5) Are the implants inserted by qualified medical practitioners.

  (6) Will women who may be suffering from diseases which are the result of receiving silicone implants receive any compensation; if so, who is responsible for the payment of compensation.

Senator Tate —The Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) There are no figures available but the number of Australian women who have received breast implants has been estimated to be of the order of 20,000-30,000.

  (2) Yes.

  (3) The Therapeutic Goods Administration wrote to all sponsors of breast implants supplied in Australia in July 1991 seeking information to justify quality and safety by 30 November 1991. Although they have not been subject to detailed evaluation to date, supply in the future will only be permitted if evidence to justify quality and safety has been presented.

  (4) Whilst there have been design improvements to minimise `bleeding' or leaking from breast implants, the review process referred to in Question 4 should ensure that only those which demonstrate the best performance will be used.

  (5) Yes.

  (6) Any woman who believes that she has been injured by a breast implant can mount a civil action for damages. The Government has no plans to provide compensation.