The French government has issued a warning to diabetes patients who have taken the drug Mediator, which is thought to have caused the death of 500 people since it was launched over 34 years ago.
The drug was marketed at overweight people with diabetes and also as an appetite suppressant before it was banned in France last November over concerns it was linked to heart problems, especially heart valve damage . People who have used the drug to treat their diabetes have been told to check with their doctor.
Xavier Bertrand, the French Health Minister, stated “Our message to all those who took Mediator is that they must see a doctor – particularly those who took it for three months over the past four years.”
Afssaps, the drug safety body, has also said “Analyses by expert epidemiologists estimate that about 500 deaths could be attributable to benfluorex.” Benfluorex is Mediator’s active ingredient, The drug has also been banned in United States, Italy and Spain.
Although the problems with Mediator are being called a health disaster, patients are being reassured over the drug, as it is estimated that only one in 2,000 people who took Mediator were at risk of serious ill effects. A spokesman for the company that sold Mediator has said that only four patients had had made formal complaints about the drug since it was banned, and that 500 deaths represented a small risk compared to the millions of people who have taken the drug.

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