Trial of French diabetes drug manufacturer in health scandal

Tue, 15 May 2012
A trial has started in Nanterre, France, over a diabetes weight-loss treatment produced by the drug manufacturer Servier, in a major scandal that has rocked the country.

The company, and its 90-year-old founder Jacques Servier and four executives, have been accused of misleading both patients and the authorities regarding a diabetes treatment they produced which was supposed to help weight loss. However, the drug, called Mediator, has been blamed for the death of over 500 people from one of its active ingredient, benfluorex, due to it causing heart valve problems.

Despite the medication having a licence for treating diabetes, it was more commonly sold as an appetite suppressant. The French health regulator, Afssaps, is also under pressure because they continued to allow the drug to be prescribed until 2009, after it was banned in a number of other European countries and the United States 10 year earlier. The main accusations are that Servier made misleading claims, while another trial is expected to take place in Paris to assess accusations of manslaughter and corruption.

The hundreds of civil plaintiffs, who are claiming for damages and interest of 100,000 euros each, say that the company intentionally misled GPs concerning the possible problem from using the drug. Charles Joseph Oudin, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, said "Servier let people use a toxic product for years. There is no debate about it."
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