The Emily Hibard Show (Podcast)

S1. E5. Melisa Erickson


In 2005, Melisa Erickson was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In 2019, her Allergan breast implants were recalled after the FDA reported they were causing sickness, cancer, and sometimes death. 

According to drugwatch.com, “In July 2019, Allergan recalled its Biocell textured breast implants after the FDA had linked them to a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. Most of Allergan’s recalled textured breast implants were sold under the Natrelle brand. The FDA advises women with BIA-ALCL to have their implants removed.”

Melisa’s breast implant illness has been masked by her pre-existing MS symptoms, but as soon as she discovered she had “breast implant illness,” she arranged to have them removed.

Melisa will have a procedure called an “explant” surgery on January 4, 2022, to have her poisonous breast implants removed. 

Here is the press release related to the Allergan Aesthetic’s breast implant recall:

IRVINE, Calif., June 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Allergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie company (NYSE: ABBV), is initiating a new digital campaign to improve device tracking and further identify and reach breast implant patients who have, or have had, BIOCELL® breast implants and/or tissue expanders to inform them of the risk of BIA-ALCL. Since July 2019 when the BIOCELL® recall was announced, robust efforts were made to reach patients, however, the Company is still seeking to directly contact all U.S. BIOCELL® patients that have not yet been notified.

This is due to incomplete device tracking data for approximately 52,000 BIOCELL® breast implant units.

It is important to note the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the following recommendation, “If you have no symptoms, we are not recommending the removal of these or other types of breast implants due to the low risk of developing BIA-ALCL. However, if you have any questions, talk to your health care provider.”

Allergan Aesthetics will launch a multi-channel campaign which will include digital and social media advertisements further informing patients of the voluntary recall and directing them to Allergan Aesthetics’ www.BIOCELLinformation.com website for education on how to identify their implant type and register their implants.”

Allergan Aesthetics is committed to patient safety and we are continuing to make every effort to make sure that each and every patient is made aware of the BIOCELL® recall, and knows their implant type and implant history,” said John Maltman, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Allergan Aesthetics.

If patients are not aware of the BIOCELL® recall previously announced on July 24, 2019 and do not know the type of implant that they have in place or their implant history, they should either:

  • Go to www.BIOCELLinformation.com to reach out to Allergan Aesthetics to determine if the company has their implant information.
  • Contact their surgeon or hospital where they received implants to determine if the surgeon or hospital has records of their implant information.

Patients who know that they have an Allergan implant, and may not have participated in device tracking previously, or who need to update their information on www.BIOCELLinformation.com. The website will inform them how to register for device tracking, which is strongly advised for all patients, and answer any questions they may have.

Patients with BIOCELL® implants or tissue expanders or a history of BIOCELL® implants or tissue expanders should go to www.BIOCELLinformation.com to learn about the BIOCELL® recall, symptoms of Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), the importance of breast self-examination and the need for regular breast implant monitoring.

“We are determined to make sure every woman has the information they need related to the BIOCELL® voluntary recall and we will continue to encourage women with breast implants to determine their implant type and opt-in to our device tracking system. Patient education is a priority. We have partnered with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) on major initiatives to raise awareness regarding the importance of breast implant tracking,” said Carrie Strom, Senior Vice President AbbVie and President Global Allergan Aesthetics.

About the GLOBAL BIOCELL® Recall

On July 24, 2019 Allergan initiated a voluntary global recall of its BIOCELL® breast implants and tissue expanders.  Allergan has continued a global basis to ensure that patients and health care professions are notified about the BIOCELL® recall. The Company issued global press releases and distributed letters directly to healthcare professionals regarding the recall. To generate awareness and provide a resource for patients, the Company launched a dedicated website, www.BIOCELLinformation.com, to help patients identify their breast implants and to provide information and resources related to the risk of BIA-ALCL.

Allergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie company will continue to work closely with global regulatory authorities and societies and patient advocacy groups to provide important BIOCELL® information to patients and health care professionals regarding the voluntary recall.  

For more information on the BIOCELL® recall, please click here for the press release.

More information on BIA-ALCL

BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer—it is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the immune system). At this time, the likelihood of developing BIA-ALCL is thought to be low, occurring in less than 0.03% of patients with BIOCELL® textured breast implants. However, BIA-ALCL is a serious condition and can lead to death, especially if not diagnosed early or treated promptly.

About Allergan Aesthetics

At Allergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie company, we develop, manufacture, and market a portfolio of leading aesthetics brands and products. Our aesthetics portfolio includes facial injectables, body contouring, plastics, skin care, and more. Our goal is to consistently provide our customers with innovation, education, exceptional service, and a commitment to excellence, all with a personal touch. For more information, visit www.AllerganAesthetics.com.

About AbbVie

AbbVie’s mission is to discover and deliver innovative medicines that solve serious health issues today and address the medical challenges of tomorrow. We strive to have a remarkable impact on people’s lives across several key therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, virology, women’s health and gastroenterology, in addition to products and services across its Allergan Aesthetics portfolio. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube and LinkedIn.

1 FDA.gov; 9/12/2019: Allergan Voluntarily Recalls BIOCELL® Textured Breast Implants and Tissue Expanders


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