French weight-loss pill linked to 500 deaths
Published 17/11/2010 | 05:00
A weight-loss drug that has been taken by millions of French is likely to have been the cause of death of 500 people, the country's drug safety body said yesterday amid claims health authorities long ignored calls for the drug to be banned.
France's second-largest pharmaceutical group is at the heart of a health scandal over Mediator, a drug for obese people with diabetes that became a popular appetite suppressor.
The French drug safety body, Afssaps, said epidemiologists believed Mediator, made by Servier, had been lethal for at least 500 people and had caused 3,500 others to be admitted to hospital since its launch in 1976.
Some 300,000 people were taking the drug when Afssaps pulled it from the market last November. But the ban was applied too slowly, given repeated warnings of its potentially lethal side-effects, experts claimed yesterday.
The Servier group dismissed the death count estimate as "theories founded on extrapolation", adding that the risk of death was only 0.005pc.
Servier is already facing four lawsuits over Mediator. (© Daily Telegraph, London)