Thursday Dec 15, 201107:26 PM GMT
Healthcare scandal surrounds Sarkozy
Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:23PM
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French President Nikolas Sarkozay (L) and Jacques Servier, chief executive of a pharmaceutical company that produced the controversial weigh loss drug, Mediator.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy has been implicated in what has been described as the country's biggest healthcare scandal of the decade.

The government and the state health regulatory body are accused of supporting the distribution of a weight loss drug known as Mediator, that is believed to have been claimed around 2,000 lives in the country, French daily Liberation reported.

Patients who took amphetamine derivative Mediator have filed a criminal lawsuit against Servier, France's second biggest pharmaceutical company.

Servier is now based in Nicolas Sarkozy's old fiefdom of Neuilly-sur-Seine, in the western suburbs of Paris. Last year, the president personally granted French Legion of Honour to chief executive of the company, Jacques Servier.

Opposition politicians are now demanding a public inquiry into the case, accusing the government of putting the lives of many individuals at risk in order to protect the profits of the business.

Between 500 to 2,000 people are believed to have died from heart trouble linked to the drug which was only banned after 30 years in 2009.

Mediator was responsible for a "health disaster" in France, said Irene Frachon, a physician who published a book on the dangers of the pill, which was recommended to not only overweight people but also healthy women who wanted to lose weight as an appetite suppressant.

The medicine, which had long been banned in the US and was outlawed in Spain in 2006 for its lethal effects, was taken by more than 5 million French people, between its launch in 1976 and its ban in 2009.

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