French weight-loss pill scandal set for landmark trial

UNTV News   •   September 23, 2019   •   209

A landmark French trial set to begin on Monday (September 23) will seek to settle one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical scandals, probing whether the company behind a weight-loss drug believed to have triggered killer side-effects covered up the risks.

Privately-owned Servier, regulator Agence nationale de securite du medicament (ANSM) and 21 defendants will face more than 2,600 plaintiffs who believe the drugmaker deliberately misled patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities.

The charges range from deceit to manslaughter which, under French law, could result in fines and jail sentences.

The case caused an outcry in France, where authorities have said as many as five million patients were exposed to the drug, known as Mediator, before its withdrawal in 2010, causing between 500 and 2,000 related deaths.

The seven-month trial will also question why the pill, introduced in 1976 in France and suspected of causing heart and pulmonary failure, was on the market for so long.

Servier’s amphetamine-derived drug was developed to treat excess weight in type-2 diabetes patients, but was also widely prescribed as an appetite suppressant. (REUTERS)

(Production: Pascale Antonie)

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