Diabetes drug may have killed 500 in France: authorities

16th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The French government Tuesday ordered drug safety authorities to explain how a diabetes drug is believed to have killed 500 people over three decades in France before it was banned last year.

Drug safety body Afssaps estimated that Mediator, a drug for overweight people with diabetes that was also used as an appetite suppressor, may have killed 500 people in 33 years, one of its directors, Fabienne Bartoli, told AFP Monday evening.

Newly appointed Health Minister Xavier Bertrand is "concerned by this case and has asked to see the head of Afssaps this morning and asked him to give a briefing on the situation," an aide to the minister told AFP on Tuesday.

Mediator was sold in France by the pharmaceuticals company Servier from 1976 until it was banned there in November 2009, Afssaps said. The body said it would give a news conference later on Tuesday.

Irene Frachon, a doctor who this year published a study warning about Mediator, said the drug was a "health disaster".

"The health authorities were late in withdrawing this drug despite several alerts" about threats it posed to the heart valves, she told AFP on Tuesday.

© 2010 AFP

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