Allergan Korea CEO Kim Ji-hyun said she would lift the two-year time limit in providing breast implant replacements for people who used Allergan’s recalled products, which can cause rare cancer.
The National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee conducted an audit of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Monday and summoned Kim as a witness to ask her if the company’s compensation plan for users of Allergan's Biocell textured implants was sufficient.
|Allergan Korea CEO Kim Ji-hyun speaks as a witness, at a parliamentary audit of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Monday.|
Rep. Choi Do-ja of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party said Allergan Korea’s compensation plan had some flaws.
Earlier, the company said if patients without the suspected breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) symptoms want to replace the breast implant, they could receive Allergan’s smooth surface breast implant for free, only for two years from July 25, 2019.
However, this proposal instead forced patients to receive surgery as quickly as possible, Choi noted.
“The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons said surgery was unnecessary if patients had no symptom. Allergan’s suggestion that surgery will be free only within two years is like encouraging patients to get surgery quickly,” Choi said. “I think the company should remove the time limit to the provision of breast implant replacement. What do you think?” Choi asked Kim.
Kim said she fully understood Choi’s point and added that the company would do as Choi suggested.
Choi went on to point out that the company’s compensation for patients diagnosed with BIA-ALCL was not enough.
She asked Kim if the company could also pay solatium to those confirmed with BIA-ALCL, besides the cost of surgery.
Kim avoided a direct answer and said that the company would “review offering individual support” if the total medical cost surpasses the reimbursement amount, and the patient has to make her contribution.
Medical records of some patients who received Allergan’s breast implants at 12 hospitals and clinics were not available because they went out of business. Lawmakers urged the government to take proper measures to address the issue.
“Do you know that people who had surgery at medical institutions that closed their shops cannot even exercise their rights to be compensated,” Rep. Jin Sun-mee of the ruling Democratic Party said while interpellating Food and Drug Safety Minister Lee Eui-kyung.
Lee said the ministry was identifying the problem and looking for a solution.
Allergan Korea CEO Kim said the company was taking seriously the concerns of the public, the medical community, and the health authorities regarding the voluntary recall. “We will support the needs of patients and doctors,” she said.
Allergan Korea had some limitations in identifying patients’ individual information but ran a separate call center to deal with the recall issue, she added.
“We will consult with the authorities constantly to ensure that the patients do not experience difficulties,” Kim said.
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