Biggest Hidden Pharma Mess That Killed More Than 2,500 People Goes To Trial In France
The Trial and also emerging reports will tarnish France’s Medical and Pharmaceutical Industries and its credibility. Areas including its medical research, medical devices and biotech sectors will also suffer a major blow.
A major legal trial involving pharmaceutical firm Servier for causing the deaths of thousands of patients and also the French drug regulator, the Agence National de Sécurité du Médicament who is also accused of not taking sufficient steps to check and control the drug has begun in France amidst a controlled media coverage. The regulatory body has been accused of being too slow to act and being too close to pharmaceutical companies.
The trial in which both parties are accused of manslaughter and deceit will attempt to uncover so many irregulatories involved in France’s massive pharmaceuticals industry and also medical and healthcare structure.
The pharma company Servier, one of France’s biggest and most powerful privately-owned laboratories, is accused of covering up the killer side-effects of the widely prescribed drug called Mediator. The prescription of Mediator to millions of patients in France resulted in more than 2,500 disclosed deaths and thousands more injured for life. Due to corruption and greed on the part of the pharmaceutical company and also medical facilities
and doctors in France, many more deaths were not properly reported and officials believed that the figure could be much higher. What is also interesting is that the drug was also prescribed to more than 8 million patients worldwide, but health authorities in many of these countries have yet to disclose any reports nor have taken any actions including Spain, Italy and Netherlands.
The drug Mediator was an amphetamine derivative marketed to overweight diabetics but it was often prescribed to healthy women as an appetite suppressant if they wanted to lose a few kilogrammes. Even healthy, slim and sporty women were prescribed it by their greedy doctors who advised they should take it in order to avoid weight gain.
Mediator, whose active substance is called benfluorex, was close in structure to fenfluramine, another appetite suppressant sold by American Home Products, later known as Wyeth.
That drug, sold along with phentermine in a combination known as fen-phen, was also linked to pulmonary hypertension and heart valve dysfunction, leading to its withdrawal in 1997 along with thousands of legal claims of health problems and deaths.
More 8 million patients were given the drug Mediator between 1976 and 2009, despite the fact that it was suspected of causing heart and pulmonary failure. The health ministry in France found at least 500 people died of heart valve trouble in France because of exposure to Mediator’s active ingredient, but other estimates by doctors put the figure closer to 2,500. Thousands more live with debilitating health problems.
Mediator was not withdrawn from the market in France until 2009. But generic versions of the drugs are still being made in countries like China and Taiwan and are available in markets like Cambodia, Vietnam and Latin America and still sold in many illegal online pharma stores as a weight loss pill.
Many females, who began taking the drug while in good health, found themselves unable to climb a flight of stairs and were left with permanent cardiovascular problems that limited their daily lives.
The alert was raised in 2007 when French pulmonologists, Dr Irène Frachon from a Brittany hospital, assessed patients’ records and warned of a link between Mediator and serious heart and pulmonary damage.
“The trial comes as huge relief. Finally, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal. This so-called medicine is in reality a poison.” commented Dr Irene Frachon in a phone interview with Thailand Medical News.
The criminal trial will seek to establish why the drug was on the market for so long in France. Consumer groups and also legal officials argue that Servier laboratory deliberately misled patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities. The drugmaker has been accused of making at least US2 billion from the drug, while knowing of its dangers.
The mediator drug killing scandal has raged for more than a decade, sparking a political row about drugs regulation and the lobbying power of pharmaceutical companies in France, which has one of Europe’s highest levels of consumption of prescription drugs.
The case also reflects how massive the covers ups were in the initial years with even the media prevented from reporting due to support from corrupted government officials. Even when deaths were reported in the initial few years, health authorities, doctors and even hospitals conspired to hide the facts in return for monies.
Thailand Medical News Editor Note: Generic versions of the drug are still sold online as a slimming and weightloss pills. Individuals are advised to avoid all such drugs sold online or on the streets and to consult their doctors should they have any weight issues. Should you come across anyone or any online site selling weight loss pills or slimming drugs, kindly report them to the local Thai police or Thai FDA immediately as you could be saving a life.