Diabetes Drug, Mediator, Linked to 500 Deaths, Says France

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Diabetes patient tests his blood sugar. (istockphoto)

(CBS) For more than 40 years, the drug Mediator was used to treat diabetes and obesity in Europe, but now French health officials are saying it may have killed hundreds and offered almost no benefit to patients.

And those who used it from 2006 to 2009, before it was banned, are being asked to see their doctors to check for possible heart valve problems.

The French health products safety agency says at least 5 million people took the drug since 1976. They believe the medication is linked to the deaths of about 500 people.

Mediator, also known as benfluorex, is not the only diabetes drug to come under fire. In September, European regulators pulled the popular Type 2 diabetes drug Avandia off the shelves for fears it is linked to heart attacks. In America, the FDA voted to keep Avandia on the market but only as a medicine of last resort.