Dow Corning, once a leading manufacturer of silicone breast implants, is now under intense scrutiny from women concerning a settlement award issued December 2, offering breast implant recipients compensation for related medical problems associated with the implant procedure. Dow Corning had been a supplier of breast implants since 1964 until questions were raised concerning the safety of the implants. Women alleged implants were causing immunity-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In 1992, the FDA issued a moratorium on all implants while their safety was disputed.
In response to over 15,000 lawsuits filed against the company since 1994, Dow Corning has now offered a $2 billion proposal to settle all implant claims. However only $600 million offered would be distributed among women in out-of-court settlements. The remaining $1.4 billion would be available for women contingent only upon a single trial demonstrating that the implants do in fact cause disease.
Women and their lawyers have criticized the plan’s distribution claiming that $600 million is not enough to meet the needs of over 300,000 implant recipients. Sybil Niden Boldrich, a former implant patient who had her implants removed, noted that out-of-court settlements would only award each woman about $2000. “You can’t sell these things for 30 years and just give women $2000 and tell them to go away,” Boldrich stated.