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Five silicone breast implant manufacturers have agreed to pay about $11.3 million to reimburse the federal government for the cost of treating Medicare patients injured by the implants, two of the companies said Wednesday. The agreement, subject to court approval, involves Baxter International, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 3M Co., Union Carbide, and Union Carbide Chemical and Plastics. Spokesmen for Bristol-Myers Squibb and 3M confirmed the parties had settled but declined further comment, including how much each company would pay. The reimbursement is related to a 1995 settlement of thousands of lawsuits filed by women who claimed the implants made them sick or endangered their health. A federal judge in Birmingham, Ala., presided over the case. The 1995 settlement originally was worth $4.2 billion but was later reduced. The total value of the revised agreement is not known, but a September 2003 ruling in the case said payments into a fund for the women had reached $1 billion. More than 400,000 women have registered to receive money through the settlement. The head of a support group for women with silicone breast implants said it was hypocritical for the Justice Department to accept millions from the companies while the implants are still available, and the Food and Drug Administration is considering requests from other manufacturers to put the products back on the market without restrictions. “This is a classic case of the government’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing,” Sybil Niden Goldrich, founder of the Command Trust Network, said in a statement. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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