Jacques Servier, founder of the drugmaker embroiled in the scandal concerning Mediator, the withdrawn diabetes treatment linked to the deaths of up to 2,000 people, is to step down as president of the French industry defence group G5.

G5, which consists of Sanofi-Aventis, Ipsen, Pierre Fabre, LFB and Servier, issued a statement saying that "due to exceptional circumstances affecting his laboratory", the 88-year-old head of the latter is stepping down to devote time to "the defence of his group at this particular time". It would appear there is a lot of defending to do, as Dr 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 The drug was withdrawn in France in November 2009 after reports that it had caused 500 deaths in the 30-odd years it had been on the market. 

G5 noted that its five members support calls for increased transparency at France's drug regulator, which have become much louder since the Mediator scandal started to grip the country. The association adds that "it fully approves of the idea of publishing the list of links between experts and laboratories", plus payments made to the former.

Ipsen's chief executive Marc de Garidel will take over from Dr Servier as G5 president, while Pierre Fabre director-general Olivier Bohuon taking over as spokesman for the association.