Drug scandal: Health authority searched

Drug scandal: Health authority searched

Diabetes mediator scandal - Several French health authorities searched

Several French health authorities were searched Thursday morning in the wake of the scandal surrounding the diabetes medication Mediator, which is said to be responsible for the deaths of up to 2,000 patients. Long before the ban, information on the side effects of the preparation should have been available here.

The second largest French pharmaceutical company Servier sold the diabetes medicine Mediator from 1976 to 2009. According to the official data, around 3,500 people had to be hospitalized in the past 30 years due to the ingestion. Between 500 and 2,000 patients are said to have died as a result of using Mediator. The French health authorities removed the drug, which was never approved in Germany, from the market in 2009 due to obvious health risks. Allegations quickly arose that the authorities had actually been aware of the problems since the 1990s. The French judiciary is also investigating this allegation and has therefore ordered a search of several health authorities.

Have the patients suffered serious health problems? Around five million patients are said to have taken Mediator in the past decades. The diabetes medication was also increasingly used to combat obesity, since the active ingredient benfluorex curbs appetite. However, the active ingredient also causes considerable side effects, with a particularly life-threatening thickening of the heart valves. Last year, numerous affected parties filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Servier because the latter had accepted the serious health damage to customers, the accusation alleged. The victims are convinced that Servier knew the dangerous side effects of the diabetes medicine. In May 2012, the trial of the head of the pharmaceutical company, 90-year-old Jacques Servier, and four former executives was opened before the criminal court in Nanterre near Paris.

French health authorities under the eye of the judiciary Now, however, the French health authorities are also increasingly being targeted by investigators. The health risks from Mediator are said to have been known to various government agencies since the 1990s. Nevertheless, the ban did not follow until 2009. For this reason, the head of the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des produits de santé; Afssaps) had to vacate his position. If the current searches by the French authorities confirm the suspicion, the state authorities have also risked the lives of the patients through gross negligence. Critics suspect that the interests of the French laboratory Servier alone should be protected here. (fp)

Also read:
Process: Fatal diabetes drug in court
500 deaths from diabetes drug mediator?
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Photo credit: Thorsten de Jong /

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