Opening of the appeal trial of the Mediator in France

Opening of the Mediator appeal trial in France

MISE À DAY

The appeal trial of the health scandal of the Mediator, a drug from Servier laboratories accused of having caused the death of hundreds of patients, opens Monday for six months before the Paris Court of Appeal.

The hearing, which takes place in the “room of the great trials” of the Palais de justice, which has already hosted the trials of the attacks of November 13 and Nice, must begin at 1:30 p.m. 

Marketed as an antidiabetic in 1976 but unduly prescribed as an appetite suppressant until 2009, the Mediator has caused serious side effects on thousands of patients suffering from heart or lung pathologies and sometimes led to their death. 

It has been prescribed to approximately 5 million people during its thirty-three years of marketing. 

At first instance, Servier Laboratories and their former number 2, Jean-Philippe Seta, were found guilty of aggravated deception and manslaughter and involuntary injury. Servier was fined 2.7 million euros, Mr. Seta a four-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 90,600 euros. 

The group was further ordered to pay a total of more than 183 million euros in damages to the victims.  

In its judgment, the Paris Criminal Court considered that the Servier laboratories “had from 1995, sufficient elements to become aware of the mortal risks” linked to the Mediator. 

The second laboratory French, on the other hand, was acquitted of the offenses of improperly obtaining marketing authorization and fraud, in particular to the detriment of French Social Security, which led the Paris public prosecutor's office and civil parties to appeal.   

In their wake, the pharmaceutical group also appealed. 

Sentenced to a fine of 303,000 euros for having delayed suspending the marketing of the Mediator despite its toxicity, the French Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM, ex-Afssaps) did not appeal. 

< p>More than 7 500 civil parties 

Only the Servier group and Jean-Philippe Seta will therefore be judged before the Court of Appeal presided over by Olivier Géron. 

“The Servier laboratories and Mr. Seta still deny having deliberately deceived patients and prescribing doctors about the dangerousness” of the Mediator, François De Castro, one of their lawyers, told AFP. 

< p>“On the first day of the marketing of this drug, they had the perfect knowledge of the extremely serious side effects” of the drug, believes on the contrary Jean-Christophe Coubris, lawyer for approximately 2,500 civil parties. 

More than 7,500 civil parties were constituted before the opening of the hearing. As for the trials of the attacks of November 13 and Nice, they will be able to follow on a web radio the debates scheduled until June 28, at the rate of two and a half days of hearing per week. 

Around fifty civil parties are expected to testify at the bar over four days at the end of February. 

The pulmonologist Irène Frachon, who had revealed to the general public the extent of the scandal, will come again to testify at the bar, even if she told AFP that she had “lost confidence in the ability of justice to condemn this type of offenses commensurate with the seriousness of the offenses committed”. 

“The mountain gave birth to a mouse” in the first instance, she said, regretting “the modesty of the sentences”, below the requisitions of the prosecution, and a missed opportunity to “give a strong signal” to drug manufacturers who do not respect the rules. 

In a column published in the Sunday Journal, the practitioner of the Brest-Carhaix hospital (west) asked French President Emmanuel Macron to modify the code of the Legion of Honor in order to posthumously withdraw this decoration from Jacques Servier, the founder of the laboratories of the same name, who died in 2014 without having rendered accounts to justice. 

For the lawyers of the parties c viles, the challenge of the trial is to obtain the confirmation of the judgment of first instance, the maintenance of a minimum of the compensation paid to their customers and that Servier be found guilty of fraud.