Nearly 1,000 South American women plan to sue French firm PIP for potentially defective breast implants the company supplied to almost 300,000 women world over, said their lawyer on Tuesday.
Lawyer Arie Alimi said about 500 Argentinian women and an equal number from Venezuela were planning to be civil plaintiffs in the probe by French police into PIP and its founder Jean-Claude Mas.
The probe is expected to lead to a court case to be held in the southern French city of Marseille later this year.
About 300,000 women in 65 countries are estimated to have received implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which allegedly used an illegal industrial-grade gel that investigators say has led to abnormally high rates of ruptured implants.
More than 450 lawsuits have been filed in three countries, and French police have placed PIP and its 72-year-old founder under investigation.
France, Germany and the Czech Republic have recommended that the devices be removed as a precaution but Britain has said it will not follow suit while Australia says it found no evidence that the implants posed a risk.
Thirteen countries in Europe and Latin America have urged women to have checkups. In two of them -- Bolivia and Venezuela --- the state is offering operations to have the implants removed, but has not made this a recommendation.
Brazil this week will start listing women who have had implants and identify the type of gel used but the move is not linked to PIP and was decided two years ago, said Jose Horacio Aboudib, the head of Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgeons.
"If in 10 years there is a problem similar to that of the PIP implants, we will know which make and which lot is defective and we can react," he said.
In Belgium meanwhile, the health ministry said women there had been fitted with a total of at least 674 potentially faulty breast implants made by PIP.