French pharmaceutical company appeals conviction over weight-loss drug

AFP Photo/Fred Tanneau

The drug company Servier on Monday launched an appeal in a Paris court against an earlier decision in the so-called Mediator affair. The group was heavily fined in 2021 for aggravated fraud and involuntary manslaughter in the production and marketing of a slimming drug.

Launched in 1976, Mediator was intended to treat excess weight in diabetes patients. The product was also widely prescribed as a weight-loss aide for otherwise healthy patients.

The drug’s active substance, benfluorex, is an amphetamine derivative, which suppresses appetite.

In 1997, concerns were raised about potential side effects, with Mediator being linked to heart valve damage and high blood pressure in some patients.

The drug was not taken off the market in France until 2009.

During its 33 years on sale, an estimated five million people were exposed to the product, with as many as 2,000 deaths believed to have been linked to its use.

Counter-appeal

The original trial in 2021 saw 14 individuals and 11 legal entities face charges in connection with the way in which the drug had been marketed and information about potential side effects concealed.

The drug company Servier was finally condemned to pay €2.7 million, having been found not guilty on charges of fraud and falsifying information.

The Paris legal authorities rejected that decision and called for a more substantial fine.

The appeal is expected to last six months.


Read more on RFI English

Read also:
French pharma giant Servier found guilty in Mediator slimming drug scandal
Trial begins over Mediator drug blamed for hundreds of deaths in France
Landmark French trial over slimming drug Mediator back in court