A new wide scale public health scandal in France once again stirred the country involving the previously sensationalized pharmaceutical scandal of the Laboratoires Servier. The company manufactured the amphetamine derivative Mediator which is a weight loss drug prescribed for diabetics who are overweight and is also used as an appetite suppressant drug, like Cialis. The scandal involves the reported numerous deaths owing to the intake of Mediator mostly by diabetics and weight loss buffs.
Fresh public health scandal
The drug Mediator has once been the center of a sensationalized pharmaceutical lawsuit in France. It was reported in the Guardian.co.UK that the drug was declared by the French health ministry as causing hundreds of deaths through heart valve damage. The numbers of deaths that are attributed to the drug has reached close to 2,000. There is apparently an increasing number of claims of developing cardiovascular complications after the long term intake of Mediator. Although the company vehemently denied these accusations, the litigation continues at this time. A fresh scandal involving the drug stirred the medical and pharmaceutical community in France once again as more victims start to clamor for the delay in the release of state compensation for the injury that the drug has allegedly caused them and the founder of the Laboratoires Servier company, Louis Servier is undergoing a formal investigation for possible manslaughter.
Possible manslaughter charges faced by Louis Servier
The 90-year old founder of one of France’s largest drug companies has been an iconic figure in the pharmaceutical industry in the country. Long before the weight loss Mediator drug was withdrawn from the market, Servier is a Legion d’Honneur awardee which is one of the highest state honor awards in France. Apparently, the charge of manslaughter indicates that the plights of the plaintiffs are now being heard by the France’s justice system, according to the victim’s lawyer. The investigation regarding the possible manslaughter charge against Servier is believed to provide a link to the numerous deaths that the Mediator is being associated with.
The allegations made against Mediator
For several decades, it has been reported that there are about hundreds of thousands of active prescriptions that were made for Mediator. The drug is mostly prescribed for diabetic patients who cannot control their being overweight. The drug can suppress the appetite of patients to control weight gain and thus weight loss enthusiasts were also attracted to use the medicine as a weight loss pill. Patients who have been taking the Mediator drug complained of developing heart disease complications and the development of heart valve defects. But it was Dr. Frachon who raised the earlier suspicion on the health risks posed by Mediator to the public in 2007. She authored a book that presents the possible risks caused by the drug which stimulate public outcry and the pouring of lawsuit and complaints against the manufacturer of the drug.
Consequently, the government ministry of health started probing about the issue. Investigations were conducted and the company Laboratoires Servier was accused of concealing the possible dangers of Mediator to health and life of those taking the drug for many years. The history of the company in being involved in another controversy pertaining to their other weight loss products which was the main issue in the so called fen-phen scandal in the 1990’s in the United States affected the company’s reputation and does not help the company in the Mediator scandal. The charges on consumer fraud and manslaughter as well as defrauding the French health care system are just among those that were contemplated by the state prosecutors to file against the company by then and the trial is currently on-going involving the last contemplated charge. Now, the manslaughter charge seems to be pushing through upon the investigation on Servier. The scandal involving the Mediator as an unsafe weight loss and appetite suppressant drug has reached the public health level which caused the head of the regulatory body of France to resign from his office. It also drove the state legislators to move for regulatory reforms in the country.
What patients say about Mediator
Testimonials were offered by patients who were prescribed with the drug and have been taking Mediator for years. As reported by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian, Daniele Mourhlon who was diagnosed with a thyroid disease was prescribed with Mediator in order to prevent gaining weight. He diligently took the medication three times daily for five years and the drug was effective in cutting down his appetite. However, with long term intake significant side effects begin to become apparent where he began to experience slowness in movement and become more dependent on the drug. Moreover, he was required to undergo a surgery to repair the damage from his heart valves which doctors point to the drug as the causative factor for such damage. Another testimony was made by Joseph Reynel, a diabetic patient who took Mediator as a prescription drug from 2003 until 2009. He complained of the same side effect of being unable to have the strength to carry out movements upon the long term intake of the weight loss medication.