It is believed that at least 500 people died from heart valve problems in France after taking the Medication which was promoted as an effective weight reducer. According to the French newspaper The Local, the drug was on the market for 33 years and was used by about five million people. Although initially intended for overweight people and diabetes, healthy people were widely prescribed as an appetite suppressant.
Safety alerts were first marked in the mid-1990s, but the drug was only banned in France in 2009, long after it was banned in the United States, Spain and Italy. The scandal broke out in 2015 and the following year was the subject of the French film “150 milligrams.” Legal experts have concluded that the drug can cause up to 2,100 long-term deaths.
Servier, the drug’s manufacturer, is accused of cheating users by hiding Mediator’s lethal side effects, and the drug company is being tried for involuntary manslaughter and deception.
According to the Reuters Agency, Mediator’s active substance is called benfluorex, it had a structure close to fenfluramine, another appetite suppressant sold by American Home Products, later known as Wyeth and now part of Pfizer. That medication, sold together with phentermine in a combination known as fen-phen , was also related to pulmonary hypertension and heart valve dysfunction, which led to its withdrawal in 1997 along with thousands of legal claims of health problems and deaths.
“Servier, since the 1970s, was knowingly hiding the true characteristics of the drug” and hiding unfavorable medical studies for the product, establishing long-term fraud, “says the 677-page document that accuses 12 executives and includes the testimony of 91 patients, four already deceased In his defense, Servier argues that there are only three documented cases of deaths related to the drug they manufactured.
The company has paid almost 132 million euros ($ 146 million) to the patients and says it will continue to compensate the victims. The interesting thing is that the French court will also determine the role of regulatory agencies, after an official investigation discovered in 2011 that the industry regulator had been too slow to act and was too close to pharmaceutical companies.