A French court has convicted a local drugmaker of fraud and manslaughter over weight-loss pills amid a major health scandal.
The company “Servier” had developed a drug called “Meditor” used by diabetics who suffer from overweight, and it was put on the market 33 years ago.
But it was withdrawn later in 2009 due to concerns it could cause serious heart problems.
It is believed that the drug led to the deaths of hundreds of people.
Doctors have recommended the drug to about five million people over a 30-year period, despite various warnings about its side effects.
Thousands of plaintiffs also participated in the trial that started in 2019.
The pharmaceutical company Servier denied any knowledge of the side effects of Mediator, but on Monday the court issued a ruling to fine the company 2.7 million euros (3.2 million dollars).
“Although they (the company) knew the risks for many years, they did not take the necessary measures,” said Judge Sylvie Doni.
The company’s former vice president, Jean-Philippe Seta, was also sentenced to a suspended four-year prison sentence.
The French Medical Regulatory Authority faces a fine of more than 300,000 euros for its role in the scandal, and AFP says the judge found out to her that the authority had “seriously failed” to perform its duties.
Ahead of Monday’s ruling, French doctor Irene Frachon, a pulmonologist who is credited with exposing the drug’s side effects, told AFP that she hoped the verdict would give her “the tools to understand how this deception could last for a long time.”
Other European countries, including Italy and Spain, banned the use of Mediator in the early 2000s.
Despite this, it continued to be offered to diabetics and other patients as an appetite suppressant in France.
A medical study concluded that it could be linked to 500 deaths due to “Mediator” between 1976 and 2009, and another study estimated the number at about 2000 deaths.