Trial Begins Over Deadly French Weight-Loss Drug

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A trial for “manslaughter and deceit” has opened in France, over a weight-loss drug that killed as many as 2,000 people and left many, many more with lifelong health issues.

“Privately-owned Servier, regulator Agence nationale de securite du medicament (ANSM) and 21 defendants will face more than 2,600 plaintiffs who believe the drugmaker deliberately misled patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities,” Reuters explained. The Guardian provided additional background:

Servier, one of France’s biggest and most powerful privately-owned laboratories, is accused of covering up the killer side-effects of a widely prescribed drug called Mediator. The French state drug regulator is accused of lenience and not acting to prevent patient deaths and injuries.

The Mediator pill 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 pounds. Even healthy, slim and sporty women were prescribed it by their doctors who advised they should take it in order to avoid weight gain.

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The pharmaceutical company that made the drug, Servier, has already paid out €132 million over the drug, which sounds like a lot, until you read that “Lawyers argue that Servier laboratory deliberately misled patients for decades, helped by lenient authorities. The drugmaker has been accused of making at least €1bn from the drug, while knowing of its dangers.”

“Finally, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal,” said Irène Frachon, the pulmonologist who helped raised concerns about the drug in 2007. “This so-called medicine is in reality a poison.”

This is precisely why fat people are so nervous and often distrustful of doctors and any other point of encounter with the medical system. Mediator isn’t even the first example of a deadly diet drug—Fen-Phen seemed like a miracle until it had to be yanked from the market after it was linked to heart problems. (And then there’s the world of shady diet pills available online, without even going through a doctor in the first place.) Sometimes the fact that they can’t see past your weight is merely frustrating; sometimes it’s downright dangerous.

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