Trial over weight loss drug linked to thousands of deaths starts in France

Mediator was not banned in France until 2009.

(CNN)A French court has heard the start of a trial involving a weight loss pill that public health officials say may have been responsible for as many as 2,000 deaths.

The massive trial, with 25 defendants and 2,600 plaintiffs, centers on Mediator, a Type 2 diabetes drug that was found to suppress appetite and was later prescribed as a weight loss aid.
However, the pill caused pulmonary hypertension -- high blood pressure in blood vessels that supply the lungs -- and heart complications, leading to death from heart failure and cardiac arrest in some patients.
    The drug also affected the aorta, the body's largest artery, and left many users in need of heart valve replacements.
    Defendants in the trial, which began Monday at the Paris Criminal Court, include the drug's manufacturer, Servier; France's drug watchdog, the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety; and a senator.
    Whistleblowers: Company at heart of 97,000% drug price hike bribed doctors to boost sales