Science

Mediator: the Paris prosecutor’s office appeals for the partial release of Servier laboratories

The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday that it had appealed against the partial release of Servier laboratories in the Mediator case, a drug held responsible for hundreds of deaths and one of the worst French health scandals.

Servier laboratories were found guilty on March 29 of “aggravated deception” and “unintentional homicides and injuries”, but acquitted of the offenses of improperly obtaining marketing authorization and fraud.

They were sentenced by the Paris Criminal Court to a fine of 2.718 million euros.

The prosecution, which in June 2020 requested a total of 10.228 million euros in fines against the parent company and five companies of the pharmaceutical group, has therefore decided to appeal this partial release.

This call “concerns the former operational director and certain companies of the Servier group,” said the public prosecutor in a press release.

“I take note of this decision”, reacted to AFP Me François de Castro, lawyer of the Servier laboratories. “We will also appeal,” he said.

For Charles Joseph-Oudin, counsel to several hundred direct victims, “this call was a decision wanted by my clients and we salute it”. “In the court’s decision, there was a very disturbing element: the fact that social security and mutual societies are not reimbursed for very large sums”, continues the lawyer.

The firm and its former number two, Jean-Philippe Seta, sentenced him to four years of suspended imprisonment and a fine of 90,600 euros for “aggravated deception” and “involuntary homicides and injuries”, but released from fraud, will be therefore retried.

The court considered that the companies of the group and Mr. Seta are “the authors of a fraud of a considerable and unprecedented scale, of which thousands of patients were victims”, whereas they “had, from 1995 , of sufficient elements to become aware of the mortal risks which they made run “to the consumers of the Mediator.

Sentenced to a fine of 303,000 euros for having delayed in suspending the marketing of the Mediator despite its toxicity, the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM, ex-Afssaps) had indicated that it would not appeal.

Marketed in 1976 for the treatment of diabetes but widely used as an appetite suppressant, the Mediator has been prescribed to around five million people and is the cause of serious damage to the heart valves (valve disease) and high blood pressure. pulmonary disease (PAH), a rare and fatal condition.

Its marketing was finally suspended on November 30, 2009.

More than 6,500 people became civil parties during this criminal trial, mainly for “deception”. Around 180 million euros in damages have been awarded to the victims in compensation for the damages suffered, according to preliminary estimates.

The investigation for “manslaughter and unintentional injury” is still ongoing and should give rise to a second trial.

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