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French Pharma Firm Found Guilty For Medical Scandal

The French court has fined the country’s biggest pharmaceutical firms £2.3m. The company was found guilty of deception and manslaughter over a pill linked to the deaths of up to 2,000 people. This is one of the biggest scandals in France.

The privately-owned laboratory was accused of covering up the side effects of the prescribed drug. Jean-Philippe Seta, the former executive was sentenced to prison for four years. The French medicines agency, accused of failing to act quickly enough on warnings about the drug, was fined €303,000.

The amphetamine derivative was used for diabetes treatment. The medicine was prescribed as an appetite suppressant to help people lose weight. Its active chemical substance is known as Benfluorex. The drug was not authorized in the US and UK. The drug Mediator was on the market for 33 years and used by about five million people before being pulled in 2009 after being linked to serious heart problems — more than a decade after concerns had first been raised.

The Health Minister of France estimated it had caused damage in the heart-valve killing at least 500 people. Thousands more have been left with cardiovascular problems.Sylvie Daunis, the court’s presiding judge said that the company weakened people’s trust in the health system. The company, which was ordered to pay tens of millions of euros in damages to more than 6,500 plaintiffs, was however cleared of fraud.

Many of the victims who testified during the trial in late 2019 and early 2020 were women who were so exhausted they had to remain seated while giving evidence. Stephanie, who took the drug for three years before being diagnosed with heart disease in 2009 said that the drug was extraordinary and she lost ten kilos the first month.

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