Indictment of Merck: “It’s a satisfaction”, but not “a victory”, reacts the plaintiffs’ lawyer Christophe Lèguevaques

Merck’s indictment for “aggravated deception” in the Levothyrox case is a “satisfied” But no “a victory“, reacts Wednesday, October 19 on franceinfo Maître Christophe Lèguevaques, lawyer for thousands of plaintiffs. The laboratory announced on Wednesday its own indictment in the criminal section in the dossier for the change in formulation of the medication for thyroid disorders, Levothyrox. The investigation opened in 2018 also relates to suspicions of homicide and involuntary injuries. The president of Merck France, Thierry Hulot, was heard this Tuesday by the examining magistrate of the health center of the judicial court of Marseille. The indictment of Merck was pronounced at the end of this hearing. “We have scientific elements which show that Merck deceived the patients“, assures Me Christophe Lèguevaques.

franceinfo: What is your reaction after Merck’s indictment for “aggravated deception”?

Christophe Leguevaques: During the period of 2017, the sick were treated as fabricators by great teachers. I hope they will revise their version. Because we have scientific elements which show that Merck deceived the patients, the doctors and perhaps even the ANSM [Agence du médicament] by communicating data which was not falsified, but which was presented in such a way that it said the opposite of what it indicated.

Merck emphasizes that this indictment in no way concerns the quality of the new Levothyrox formula and asserts that there is “no criminal offense”. What do you think of these words?

Merck benefits from the presumption of innocence for the time being. But we have brought together a certain number of elements which demonstrate, with supporting scientific studies, the fraudulent behavior of Merck. We will all explain it, I hope, before the criminal court and I hope not too long. But we made progress thanks to this indictment.

How did your customers react to the announcement of this laboratory examination?

For them, it’s a satisfaction because they have the impression that the fight that has been waged for five years by associations, by patients, by lawyers, is beginning to bear fruit. But this is only the beginning, since there is still all the adversarial debate that awaits us before the examining magistrate with expert opinions and second opinions.

The investigation was also opened for homicides and involuntary injuries. For the moment, there is only question of indictment for aggravated deception. What is your feeling ?

I think the investigating judge made the decision to be sure that his case will not end up like other public health cases in a vacuum, with acquittals at the hearing. Aggravated deception is much easier to demonstrate since it will suffice to show that Merck was aware of information that they concealed. For homicide or for endangering the life of others, the proof is always more complicated. This does not prevent the case from continuing and we will continue to fight so that Merck is also prosecuted for homicide.

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