French drug exec charged with manslaughter over drug safety

For 10 years after the U.S. and other countries had withdrawn the French diabetes drug Mediator from the market because of serious health concerns, authorities in France permitted Servier to continue selling it there. Now that it is a national scandal, authorities have hauled founder Louis Servier into court twice in less than 10 months, this time on charges of manslaughter.

The 90-year-old Servier and 6 of his companies were charged in the case. He was ordered to post about $97,000 in bail, Reuters reports. A trial on separate charges that began in May over whether Servier misled authorities and consumers about the dangers of the drug was suspended, but is still pending. He and other executives face jail time on the first set of charges. 

The drug, which was often prescribed for weight loss, was tied to serious heart problems in thousands of patients and at least 500 deaths. When the matter finally reached the outrage factor in France, the country launched a probe into ties between the company and regulators, and the top drug regulator resigned.

It wasn't the only issue to spark concern there. There was also an outcry last year when it was learned that a breast implant maker in France had been using industrial-grade silicone, which was rupturing and causing lots of medical issues. France earlier this year replaced its old drug and device regulatory agency with an all-new one with much stricter rules about ties between companies and regulators. 

- read the Reuters story

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