Lymphoma risk prompts FDA recall of Allergan’s textured breast implants


The Food and Drug Administration requested on July 24 that Allergan pull six brands of textured breast implants and breast expanders from the U.S. market, an action the agency took because of new data that substantially increased the number of women who developed a rare cancer – anaplastic large-cell lymphoma – in association with receiving these textured breast devices.

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This is the first product recall the FDA has made to address the issue of breast implant–associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a complication that first came to national attention with a 2011 FDA report that had tallied 60 identified BIA-ALCL cases worldwide. By the end of September 2018, the number of reported worldwide BIA-ALCL cases had jumped to 457 cases reported to the agency via medical device reporting. In July 2019, the FDA cited a total of 573 unique, global case reports for BIA-ALCL sent to the agency through July 6, including 33 episodes that led to death.

It was inclusion of these additional 116 cases since September 2018 and 24 additional deaths that led FDA researchers to conclude that “the risk of BIA-ALCL with Allergan BIOCELL textured implants is approximately six-times the risk of BIA-ALCL with textured implants from other manufacturers marketing in the U.S.,” according to a statement from the agency.

The FDA is not recommending that patients who received one of the six products covered by the recall have the material removed if symptoms have not appeared because of the potential risk from explantation.

The agency also stressed that its investigation of the risk posed by placement of other brands of textured breast implants is ongoing and that overall less than 5% of all breast implants performed in current U.S. practice involve the macrotextured implants of the type specified in the Allergan recall.

This U.S. recall follows similar actions taken in France (and the rest of the European Union), Canada, and Australia, and it contrasts with the agency’s prior decision in May 2019 not to start a recall or ban of textured implants following a advisory committee meeting that discussed BIA-ALCL.

The six products that Allergan agreed to recall from marketing at the FDA’s request are four textured breast implants (Natrelle Saline-Filled Breast Implants, Natrelle Silicone-Filled Breast Implants, Natrelle Inspira Silicone-Filled breast Implants, and Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Filled Breast Implants) and two tissue expanders used prior to a breast implant (Natrelle 133 Plus Tissue Expander and the Natrelle 133 Tissue Expander with Suture Tabs).

Dr. Joshua Brody, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York

Dr. Joshua Brody

FDA officials said they are considering recommendations for changes to the labeling of breast implant products, including a possible boxed warning and beefed up patient information.

“The recall of these textured implants is a big deal in protecting women from the potential risks of developing, and dying from, this rare type of aggressive lymphoma,” Joshua Brody, MD, a medical oncologist and director of the lymphoma immunotherapy program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York said in a statement. “While case reports have suggested a potential link between some types of breast implants and this disease – anaplastic lymphoma – for over 20 years, it has taken time to gain sufficient evidence to suggest, and understand, the causality. Some types of implants induce inflammation, which can both increase the chance of developing cancer, and also help to ‘hide’ developing cancers from the immune system. By preventing further use of these implants, the FDA is helping women to protect themselves from the medically serious and emotionally exhausting effects of these risks.”

Dr. Brody reported having no relevant disclosures.


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