A land mark French trial is due to begin to decide whether a diabetes pill prescribed for weight loss was behind the deaths of up to 2000 people.
The BBC reports that Servier, the drug’s manufacturer is accused of deceiving users over the killer side effects of a drug later used to treat overweight diabetics.
In what is believed to be one of France’s biggest health scandals, the firm is on trial for manslaughter and deceit.
Server pleads not guilty holding that customers were warned of the side effects.
According to French health experts, the drug known as Mediator could have killed anywhere between 500 and 2000 people before it was finally taken off the market in 2009.
The country’s state drug regulator, accused of not acting to prevent deaths and injuries, is also on trial.
The trial will involve more than 2,600 plaintiffs and 21 defendants, and is expected to run over the course of six months.
It will also look into why the drug which was introduced in 1976 was allowed to sell for so long despite various warnings.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that the drug manufacturer purposely misled patients for decades, and that this was bolstered by lenient authorities.
Servier has been accused of profiting at least €1bn ($1.1bn, £88mn) from the drug’s sales.
“The trial comes as huge relief. Finally, we are to see the end of an intolerable scandal,” Dr Irene Frachon, a pulmonologist credited with lifting the lid on the side effects, told Reuters news agency.
Dr Frachon’s research drew on medical records across France and concluded that there was a clear pattern of heart valve problems among Mediator users. This prompted many more studies which ultimately led to the drug’s ban.
One study concluded that 500 deaths could be linked to Mediator between 1976 and 2009. A second one put the figure at 2,000.
Those numbers have been disputed by Servier, which has said that there are only three documented cases where death can be clearly attributed to the use of Mediator. In other cases, it says, aggravating factors were at work.