Allergan Korea on Monday rolled out compensation plans for patients treated with its breast implants, but fell short of expectations.
The pharmaceutical firm’s rough-textured Natrelle Biocell Textured Breast Implants were red-flagged by the US Food and Drug Administration in July for having a sixfold risk of causing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) -- a rare cancer of the immune system. Allergan has globally recalled all its products.
The first Korean diagnosed with BIA-ALCL made headlines in August, triggering concerns among patients here who used it.
Following the event, and as a result of a monthlong discussion between South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the doctors’ association and Allergan Korea, patients diagnosed and suspected of having BIA-ALCL, in addition to patients without the symptoms will all be covered by the company’s compensation plan.
For diagnosed patients, the national health insurance scheme will cover the medical fees while Allergan will provide for the excess lifetime medical expenses.
For those showing symptoms of BIA-ALCL whose physicians recommend either CD30, ALK or cytological test, Allergan will cover approximately 1.2 million won ($1,000) per test.
Those who show no symptoms but wish to replace their implants will be given Allergans’ smooth type breast implant for free for two years from July 25.
Over 1,000 patients are represented by law firms Jipyong, Lincoln and OhKims, who expressed dissatisfaction with the plan.
“A careful reading will show that Allergan’s compensation plan has no significance,” contested OhKims’ lawyer Um Tae-seob.
“Had it not been for Allergan, the patients would not have had to live with a weighing concern in their chests,” said Um, drawing attention to how the company’s third compensation plan does not include the cost of surgery and the physical and psychological stress.
Allergan Korea explained that BIA-ALCL is rare -- health authorities across the world do not advise implant removal or replacement for the purpose of preventing it, as the disease has a 0.003 to 0.03 percent rate of occurance.
The aforementioned Korean patient was the fourth such case from Asia, following previously reported diagnoses in Thailand and Japan.
The Korean aurhorities said they will continue to talk with Allergan and monitor how the compensations pan out.
The ministry will also watch out for overseas examples, to make up for the shortcomings of current plans.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (email@example.com)