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Australia’s medical watchdog, however, says health officials had found no evidence that the PIP implants had an increased risk of rupture in Australian women, and said lab testing of the silicone gel used indicated it was nontoxic to nearby tissue even if the implant did rupture.

In Venezuela, lawyer Emilia De Leon confirmed that about 400 Venezuelan women are suing companies that sold them PIP implants and demanding the firms cover medical expenses to have the products removed.

Lansley said Britain and France were cooperating over the issue and planned to consult other European countries in the hope of preventing similar problems in the future.

In the Czech Republic _ where the implants were banned in 2010 _ the country’s health ministry said it would negotiate with the country’s health insurers on how to cover the cost of removals.

Those women who refuse to have the implants removed should undergo regular health checks, the ministry said in a statement. “No imminent risk of serious health problems has been proven,” the ministry said.

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Associated Press Writers Karel Janicek in Prague and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report