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Egis distances itself from parent's scandal

French pharmaceutical company Servier, the largest owner of Hungary’s Egis, has been in the center of attention for releasing an anti-diabetes drug that has been linked to the deaths of up to 2,000 patients. Egis has no involvement in the scandal, as it hasn’t sold either the drug Mediator or any similar medicine, the Hungarian company told business daily Napi Gazdaság.

France’s Servier is, however, can face serious consequences, as according to the allegations, the company knew about the possible lethal side effects of the drug having been repeatedly alerted to the risks but had nonetheless kept the product on the market until 2009. In several other countries, Mediator was withdrawn from the market sooner.

The trade group of France’s drug makers has already suspended Servier’s membership, and the French health minister has announced a thorough investigation in the case and has also pledged to overhaul France’s drug approval and monitoring system.

Servier reacted in a statement that the company was “surprised by the responsibilities the IGAS (a French authority in charge of social issues) report appears to put on Mediator, which don’t seem to correspond to reality,” Napi Gazdaság wrote, citing an earlier Bloomberg article.

A French group that represents 600 private health insurers filed a lawsuit against Servier at the beginning of February.

In the meantime, Servier’s founder Jacques Servier has announced the donation of €20 million to a fund established to compensate those affected by the drug, French daily Le Figaro wrote, noting that the amount is rather small in light of the €326 million that two French health insurers wants in compensation from Servier.

It is too early to say whether the case will have a long-term effect on Egis within the pharma group, Napi Gazdaság said. Further compensation cases are expected to come, and the outcome of such cases are doubtful as proving a direct correlation between side effects and a drug that has been on the market for 33 years can be problematic. It is also not yet known how much the case will cost Servier and how it would affect the future of Egis, the daily concluded.