The second French pharmaceutical group, the Servier laboratory, which produced the Mediator is accused of fraud, aggravated deception, injuries and involuntary homicides. Hearings begin on one of the biggest health scandals in recent history
Five thousand people involved in all of which 2.700 are civil parties, 376 lawyers and 25 defendants: these are the numbers of the Mediator process opened today before the criminal court of Paris. The case of the killer drug responsible for the deaths of 1.500 (but possibly 2.100) people in France is one of the biggest health scandals in recent history. The second French pharmaceutical group, the Servier laboratory, which produced it, is accused of fraud, aggravated deception, injuries and involuntary homicides.
For the next 7 months, the judges will listen to 23 defendants, including 11 natural and 12 moral persons, to shed light on the medicine presented as adjuvant to the treatment of diabetes, only to have caused death due to its toxic effects on the heart. At the center of the awaited trial the truth about the Mediator: the Servier laboratory is accused of hiding the danger of the drug.
Marketed in 1976 for 33 years, it has always been presented to health authorities as a drug against excess cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as being considered an adjuvant for patients with type 2 diabetes. "False presentation for commercial purposes only ", concluded the investigating judges, for whom it was actually a hunger suppressant drug derived from amphetamine, similar to two others on the market but sold in knowledge of the facts.
It was confirmed that the three products belonged to the same family of molecules - the enfluramina - amphetamine derivative with anorectic effect that acts by promoting the sense of satiety, whose health risks have been documented since the XNUMXs by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Yet the Mediator was only banned in 2009, after the alarm raised by a pulmonologist from Brest, Irene Frachon, while Servier's other hunger inhibitors had been withdrawn from sale in 1997 because they were potentially harmful to the heart valves and involved in the pulmonary arterial hypertension.
The Mediator instead continued to be prescribed, more and more for its anorectic effect, without Servier intervening. The National Agency for Medicines and Health Products is also involved, which "did not act fast enough, partly because of the internal rules of the institution, which did not know how to listen to the warnings, but also because of the interests of some of its members in the business of Servier, "denounced Charles Joseph-Oudin, lawyer for several victims of the drug.
So on the dock are also former experts from the Agency, accused of "illegal appropriation of interests". Excellent absentees Jacques Servier, founder of the Servier laboratory, one of the first indicted, who died in 2014 at the age of 92.