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Servier laboratories, found guilty on March 29 of “aggravated deception” and “unintentional homicides and injuries” in the Mediator health scandal, confirmed Thursday to appeal their conviction. The laboratories were sentenced by the Paris Criminal Court to a fine of 2.718 million euros. They were, however, acquitted of the offenses of improperly obtaining marketing authorization and of fraud.

Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor announced to appeal this partial release. Asked by AFP, Me François de Castro, lawyer for Servier laboratories, then indicated that they would also appeal. “Servier laboratories take note of the appeal of the Paris prosecutor’s office in the Mediator affair,” the firm said in a press release on Thursday.

“This decision therefore leads to the holding of a new trial for which the Paris prosecutor’s office is responsible. Laboratoires Servier were prepared to accept the court’s judgment in order to put a definitive end to this legal case, despite their conviction, which they consider unfounded, ”adds the firm. “Consequently, the Servier laboratories have therefore taken the decision to appeal their convictions for the offenses of aggravated deception and unintentional homicides and injuries”.

No call for the National Medicines Safety Agency

The firm and its former number two, Jean-Philippe Seta, sentenced to four years’ suspended imprisonment and a fine of 90,600 euros for “aggravated deception” and “involuntary homicides and injuries”, but released from fraud, will be therefore retried. The court considered that the Servier and Mr. Seta laboratories are “the authors of a fraud of a considerable and unprecedented scale, of which thousands of patients were victims”, whereas they “had, from 1995, of sufficient elements to become aware of the mortal risks which they posed to the users of the Mediator.

Jean-Philippe Seta, former number 2 of the Servier laboratories, at the Paris court. (AFP)

Sentenced to a fine of 303,000 euros for having delayed in suspending the marketing of Mediator despite its toxicity, the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM, ex-Afssaps) had indicated that it would not appeal. More than 6,500 people became civil parties during this criminal trial, mainly for “deception”. Around 180 million euros in damages have been awarded to the victims in compensation for the damages suffered, according to preliminary estimates.

The civil parties also appeal

In a press release, Jean-Christophe Coubris, a civil party lawyer, in turn announced that he was appealing “in order to assert the rights” of the victims. “We will not fail to defend our 2,600 victims with the same energy deployed at first instance for the purposes of obtaining harsher convictions on the criminal level, and compensation on the civil level commensurate with the damage suffered, and an amount of at least what we had obtained at first instance ”, argued the lawyer.

Also a civil party lawyer, Charles Joseph-Oudin has also announced that he is appealing, “to protect the interests” of his clients. The call of the laboratories “has no impact on the payment of compensation allocated to victims since the judgment provides for provisional execution”, he recalled.

Marketed in 1976 for the treatment of diabetes but widely used as an appetite suppressant, the Mediator is held responsible for hundreds of deaths. The marketing of this drug, prescribed to about five million people, was finally suspended on November 30, 2009.

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