Daily Management Review

French court fines Servier €2.7 million for a drug causing hundreds of deaths


A high court in Paris has handed down a verdict in one of the most high-profile cases in France's pharmaceutical industry, Le Figaro reports.

Servier, which produced a weight-loss drug Mediator, was fined €2.7m for "fraud" and "unintentional killing and injury", although the prosecution had asked for a €10.3m penalty. Former Servier top manager Jean-Philippe Seta received four years' probation. And the French regulator will pay a €303,000 fine for "failing a mission" to keep drugs that could be dangerous to health off the market.

The weight-loss drug Mediator has been linked to at least 500 deaths. These data were published by the Medicines Agency (later the National Agency for Health and Safety at Work and Sanitary Protection) in autumn 2010. At the same time the authors of independent research assume that the real number of victims from using the drug could be around 2,000, and the number of those affected could be up to 5,000 people.

The drug Mediator, an amphetamine derivative, has been produced by Servier since the mid-1970s. Initially it was intended for diabetic patients suffering from obesity. But it was soon prescribed to all patients who wanted to lose weight. Mediator was almost immediately banned for sale in Belgium (as early as 1978), stopped for sale in Switzerland in 1997, and in Spain in 2003. However, in France it remained available until 2009 - when a lung disease specialist published a scientific paper in which she proved the link between the drug and cardiovascular disease.

Servier had agreed to pay a total of €132m in compensation to the victims but the majority of the patients claiming to have been harmed by the drug decided to take the case to court. Civil suits have been brought against the company by some 6,500 people, who are seeking €1bn in compensation from Servier.

source: lefigaro.fr