French drug company, Servier, is being investigated “on suspicion of dishonest practices and deception,” after a study reported evidence that its weight-loss drug damaged users’ heart valves and caused them to suffer pulmonary hypertension.
Radio France Internationale reports that at least 1,300 people died from Mediator, which was pulled from the market in 2010. A study from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research estimates that 3,100 people overall had been hospitalized during the 33 years Mediator was sold. And researchers say these figures may be low.
Yahoo! News reported that Mediator, also known by the generic name benfluorex, was first used to reduce fatty proteins and help diabetics control their blood sugar levels, but it also served as an appetite suppressant. The drug began to see widespread use as a prescription for non-diabetics trying to lose weight.
France's national health insurance system data said that 303,000 patients used Mediator in 2006.
The Inquisitor reported that 145 million packets of Mediator were sold between 1976 and 2009, according to its manufacturer, Servier.
A similar drug, fenfluramine, was taken off the market after it was linked with heart valve damage. The drug was part of the Fen-Phen scandal of the late 1990s.