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Servier chief on bail as courts probe diabetes drug scandal

Daily News | September 23, 2011

Kevin Grogan

Servier chief on bail as courts probe diabetes drug scandal

Jacques Servier, founder of the drugmaker embroiled in the scandal concerning Mediator, the withdrawn diabetes treatment linked to the deaths of up to 2,000 people, has been told to post bail of 4 million euros after being charged by French regulators.

Dr Servier is being investigated in Paris on suspicion of dishonest practices, deception over the quality of Mediator (benfluorex), and of falsely obtaining authorisation to sell it, according to his lawyer, Herve Temime, quoted by Reuters.

The Mediator case has gripped France over the last year - the drug, which was also prescribed as an appetite suppressant, was withdrawn in France in November 2009 after reports it had caused 500 deaths in the 30-odd years it had been on the market. However, the drug, which was linked to heart valve damage, was pulled from the market ten years later than in several European countries and the USA.

As well as the 4 million euros, the French courts have to guarantee possession of a further 6 million euros before December 15. Five companies under the umbrella of Servier are also under investigation and must post 26 million euros with an additional guarantee of 39 million euros.

Servier denies having misled the French authorities and patients. It acknowledges 38 deaths linked to the drug, but says only four of these were caused by Mediator. Reuters quotes Mr Temime as saying that "it's now up to us to explain ourselves, It goes without saying, but people who have been put on trial are innocent until proven guilty".

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