Servier Denies French Allegation of Concealing Mediator Diabetes Drug Risk

Les Laboratoires Servier, France’s second-biggest drugmaker, denied allegations by government investigators that the company concealed the risks of a drug now suspected of having caused the deaths of as many as 2,000 people. Servier also never pressed regulators to keep the drug on the market regardless of the risks, the closely held company, based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, said in a document sent via e-mail made public today. The drug, benfluorex hydrochloride, was sold in France for 33 years until it was pulled from the market in November 2009. A government investigative agency, the Inspection Generale des Affaires Sociales, said in a Jan. 15 report that Servier depicted benfluorex as a diabetes treatment, when in reality it was a “potent” appetite suppressant closely related to fenfluramine, a component of the diet-drug combination fen-phen. Fenfluramine was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1997 after it was linked to heart-valve damage.

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