Ban on cosmetic gel to help claims for compensation
Mainland lawyers and academics have welcomed the ban on PAAG, a gel widely used in cosmetic surgery that has caused irreversible harm to a large number of women, as bolstering the victims' fight for compensation.
The State Food and Drug Administration yesterday announced a ban on the production, sale and use of the hydrophilic polyacrylamide gel, known as PAAG.
Since October, high-profile Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been helping Shenzhen consumer Zhang Huiqin seek compensation in the courts from Fuhua Hospital, for damage caused during cheek augmentation surgery in which PAAG was used.
Ms Zhang was also sued - for defamation - by PAAG manufacturer Jilin Fuhua after she complained to the media and the government about the harm she suffered. She lost both cases and Mr Pu has encountered difficulties helping her to appeal.
But Mr Pu yesterday said the ban would help victims in their fight for compensation.
'The ban can be used as new evidence in the coming court hearings to prove the gel is hazardous and has caused injuries. Secondly, it will prove that the previous court rulings were wrong and based on falsehoods.
'If this praiseworthy ban had been enacted earlier, poor women like Zhang Huiqin would not have undergone such nasty surgery, or suffered the misery of physical and mental pain, nor had to face time-consuming lawsuits.'
Mr Pu and colleague Teng Biao are preparing to help a number of PAAG victims nationwide file a class-action lawsuit against hospitals and local medical administrations.
'I hope to invite more lawyers from all over China to co-ordinate and file class-action suits together, because there are too many victims in need of legal aid, and it's an arduous process which requires great attention and well-planned appeals.'
Mr Pu said the lawyers would consider suing the producer for poor quality and false advertising, illegal hospitals for providing the treatments, and the administrations for malfeasance.
'The administration of public rights is a double-edged sword. It was used by corrupt officials to illegally approve PAAG gel, but it was also used by responsible officials to ban the gel.'
Zhuo Xiaoqin , a professor of medical law in Beijing, tried to alert the authorities to the gel's dangers in a letter to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in 2000. His call for a ban was ignored.
Professor Zhuo helped two victims sue the owner of an illegal beauty salon and a Beijing newspaper that carried the salon's advertisement. He described the PAAG ban as a 'big relief to everybody concerned'.