France charges weight-loss pill drugmaker over deaths

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The Paris prosecutor’s office has announced that drugmaker Servier as well as the French drug regulator should face trial over weight-loss pill Mediator, believed to have caused at least 500 deaths in one of France’s worst health scandals, reports Business Insider.

Once licensed as a diabetes treatment, the drug was widely prescribed as an appetite suppressant to help people lose weight. Mediator, whose active chemical substance is known as Benfluorex, was withdrawn from the French market in 2009, around a decade after being pulled in Spain, Italy and the US.

The report says the prosecutor’s indictment covers charges of misleading claims as well as manslaughter and targets 14 people as well as 11 institutions including Servier and the French drug regulator ANSM.

A Servier spokesperon had no comment.

According to the health ministry, at least 500 people died of heart valve trouble in France because of exposure to Mediator’s active ingredient. Other estimates based on extrapolations have put the death toll closer to 2,000, the report said.

Business Insider report

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