When prescriptions kill
It’s shaping up to be the biggest scandal of the French health system. Anywhere from 500 to 2,000 deaths are suspected, due to a tablet that authorities say should have been recognised as dangerous and taken off the market at least a decade before it was finally pulled.
A tablet manufactured by France's second-largest pharmaceutical company, Servier, is now suspected of having caused hundreds of deaths and what's worse, the company is accused of deliberately hiding the facts. The pill, named Mediator, contains a molecule called benfluorex which is derived from amphetamines. When ingested this molecule is quickly modified by the body to create a poison.
Mediator was sold for over 30 years and was highly subsidised by the French government. The pill was promoted as an aid for obese diabetics but widely prescribed as a diet pill to hundreds of thousands of French people.