The founder of Servier, the French drugmaker, will appear in court next month to face charges concerning the firm's actions concerning Mediator, the withdrawn diabetes treatment which has been linked to the deaths of up to 2,000 people.

The Le Figaro newspaper has reported that 88-year-old Jacques Servier is due in court on February 11, to face accusations in a lawsuit brought by alleged victims and their relatives that the company did not behave in a transparent way and made misleading claims about Mediator (benfluorex). The drug was withdrawn in France in November 2009 after reports that it had caused 500 deaths in the 30-odd years it had been on the market. 

The case has been described as the biggest health scandal in living memory in France due in part to the fact that Mediator, which was linked to heart valve damage, was pulled from the market ten years later than in several European countries and the USA.

Mr Servier, who is still chairman of the privately-owned group, has said he is happy to help with any investigation. However, the company is concerned about the allegations that have made in the government agency report released at the weekend which claimed that Mediator should have been withdrawn ten years earlier and came up with the 2,000 deaths figure.

The Financial Times quotes Servier as saying that the aforementioned report had been prepared without any evidence taken from the company itself. “There was no right of response,” Servier said, adding that it was  “stunned” by the claims which “do not appear to conform to reality”.