Obesity Drug Blamed in French Deaths

PARIS, Oct. 15 (UPI) — French health officials say an anti-obesity drug pulled from the market in 2009 because of concern about heart problems may have killed as many as 1,000 people.

Studies have shown that benflourex, the main component of the drug Mediator, could weaken heart valves and also cause pulmonary arterial hypertension, French English-language newspaper The Connexion reported Thursday.

The drug, originally developed to help diabetics combat insulin resistance, was found to be an appetite suppressant and was used to control obesity.

Seven million boxes a year were being sold and some 300,000 people in France were taking it before it was withdrawn in November.

French health agency officials were asked to examine files and they estimated between 500 and 1,000 people may have died as a result of the drug.

Long-term users were being urged to talk to their doctors about a heart scan, The Connexion said.

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