France Servier founder investigated in drug deaths
PARIS Dec 11 (Reuters) - A Paris court formally placed the founder of French drugmaker Servier under investigation on Tuesday on suspicion of manslaughter for his role in the Mediator anti-diabetes drug scandal, his lawyer said.
In one of France's biggest health scandals, officials blamed at least 500 deaths on the drug that was often prescribed for weight loss before being pulled from the French market in 2009, about a decade after its withdrawal from Spain, Italy and the United States.
Louis Servier, 90, was ordered to post bail of 75,000 euros ($97,500), his lawyer Herve Temime, told Reuters.
Six subsidiaries of Servier, which were similarly put under investigation on Tuesday, were ordered to pay a total of 2.4 million euros.
Placing Servier under formal investigation is a step that can, but does not necessarily, lead to a trial.
A related trial to determine whether Servier, who also was the company's president, misled patients and authorities about the drug was delayed in May and is still pending.
Servier has denied those accusations.
Although licensed as a diabetes treatment, Mediator was widely prescribed, with a state subsidy, as an appetite suppressant to help people lose weight.
The drug is now suspected of causing heart valve disorders. ($1 = 0.7693 euros) (Reporting By Thierry Leveque. Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Michael Roddy)