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Mediator trial: victims’ lawyers attack Servier’s “big business”

At the Mediator appeal trial, the lawyers for the civil parties called on the court on Tuesday to make Servier laboratories “financially assume” their “negationist behavior”, which led to an “announced health drama”. “The Mediator is not an accident, is not an error, but a deliberate organization”, argued Me Charles Joseph-Oudin, during his argument.

This drug, marketed since 1976 as an antidiabetic but also improperly prescribed as an appetite suppressant until its withdrawal from the market in 2009, has caused serious cardiovascular effects in thousands of patients and is held responsible for hundreds of deaths.

The second French pharmaceutical group and its former CEO have been retried since January before the Paris Court of Appeal, in particular for “aggravated deception” and “homicides and involuntary injuries”.

“Strategy of Disorder”

The defendants recognize an “error of assessment”, but no criminal fault. Throughout the debates, they maintained that this drug was not an anorectic, that prescriptions for weight loss were very few and that no “alert” was established on the dangerousness of the drug before 2007, or even 2009. “How to understand, fourteen years after the withdrawal of the product, that we continue to discuss” the difference between its effects in rats and in humans, is surprised Me Joseph-Oudin, qualifying Servier’s defense as ” strategy of trouble”, like the tobacco industry with the misdeeds of cigarettes.

His colleague, Martine Verdier, invites the court not to be fooled by the “battle of experts (…) very expensively organized” by Servier, faced with an “absolutely established scientific consensus”.

She believes that the group knowingly decided, in 1969, to position the Mediator on “people concerned about their line and their weight” and that it had a study in 1971 describing its action in the body, similar to two appetite suppressants which will be banned in 1997 for their deleterious effects.

“When “big pharma” comes down to “big business”, it is the chronicle of an announced health drama”, deplores the lawyer. For Sylvie Topaloff, it is obvious that “the Mediator was mainly prescribed to lose weight” and “the obstinacy of the Servier laboratories in denying this diversion of use” was only intended to avoid reimbursement by Social Security or a “pure ban and simple”.

While the trial often took on the appearance of a “scientific closed session”, with very technical debates, the lawyers for the civil parties also called on the court to “not forget” the 7,650 civil parties constituted at the trial, even if only one handful attended the hearings.

For financial reasons, because of their state of health, or because “they are tired, tired, lost in a procedure which has lasted fourteen years, (…) distressed by their health and the trial”, analyzes Me Verdier.

A “large proportion of women” – around 70% – victims of “medicine for the poor” and aesthetic standards pushing them to want to “lose a few pounds before summer”, indignant Me Topaloff. Me Joseph-Oudin also evokes the “ghosts of the Mediator”, the “hundreds of thousands of victims” who have “never dared to act” in justice or “ignore” the risks incurred, especially abroad.

“You have to knock”

If “nothing will repair the mortgage of their lives and deaths” caused by the Mediator, the three lawyers called on the court to “reassess upwards” the compensation granted at first instance – 10,000 euros to 50,000 euros according to the duration of exposure to the drug – “in relation to the seriousness of the offense prosecuted and the damage caused”.

They claim 100,000 to 200,000 euros per direct victim and “an additional sum of 50,000 euros”, considering that the “systematism in the denials of the defendants” contributed to “increase the moral damage”.

Supporting the prosecution, which will present its requisitions on May 30 and 31, Me Joseph-Oudin also wanted the fine imposed on Servier at first instance – 2.718 million euros – to be increased. “We have to knock, that they understand that we cannot trifle with the interests of patients”, he claimed, arguing “the extremely lucrative nature of the offense”, the Mediator having reported 579 million euros in turnover in 33 years of marketing.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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