HK women in packed court to hear toxic gel case

Vivian Wu

Three Hong Kong women injured by a toxic gel used in cosmetic surgery were among around 80 people who crammed into a Shenzhen court yesterday for the first hearing against a local hospital since the product was banned on the mainland last month.

Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court heard an appeal filed by Shenzhen woman Zhang Huiqin against a Louhu court ruling in favour of the Shenzhen Fuhua Hospital, where Ms Zhang says she sustained irreversible damage from injections of hydrophilic polyacrylamide gel, known as PAAG, during cosmetic surgery on her forehead.

The State Food and Drug Administration banned the gel on the mainland last month after a flood of consumer complaints and warnings from the Hong Kong Consumer Council that the product could cause women to lose their breasts if used in augmentation surgery.

Ms Zhang's lawyers told the court the ban was new evidence to support their client's claim for medical injury compensation because the ban proved the gel 'was toxic and harmful, and had caused significant injuries'.

But lawyers for the hospital rejected suggestions that the administration's ban on the gel was new evidence, saying it was introduced 'in consideration of [the] chaotic plastic injection surgery market in China'.

Arguing for the hospital, Li Zheng said that since 1998 the hospital had conducted 247 cheek augmentation procedures and a further 474 on foreheads, but only Ms Zhang had claimed she was injured.

Yu Juntian , a lawyer for the gel's manufacturer, Jilin Fuhua, said yesterday that the company 'is cautiously considering appealing' to the state drug administration for a review on the ban. Mr Yu said the ban had cost the company 19 million yuan in lost earnings.

No decision was handed down.