Diet guru Dukan banned over ‘deadly’ pill

French diet king Pierre Dukan has been given a ban and heavily criticized by France’s medical board for prescribing weight-loss pill Mediator, which has been linked to hundreds of deaths, to his patients and then lying about it, it emerged this week.

Diet guru Dukan banned over 'deadly' pill
French diet guru Dr. Pierre Dukan. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is believed to have used his diet to get into shape for her 2011 wedding. Photos: Eric Piermont/Carl de Souza/AFP

Dr. Dukan, a former GP whose diet regime has gained both success and notoriety in the last decade, was last week given an eight-day ban from practicing medicine by France’s national medical board, his lawyer told French daily Le Figaro on Monday.

The board found Dukan guilty of a “breach of ethical regulations” after he prescribed Mediator, a diet pill linked to hundreds of deaths, on five separate occasions, and then lied about it.

“In resorting to untruthful assertions, Dr. Dukan demonstrated behaviour which lacked probity and discredits the profession,” said the medical board in its ruling.

Dukan, 72, was also ordered to pay €6,000 in damages to a former patient who developed heart problems in the early 1970s to whom he prescribed Mediator, even though the drug was only intended to treat diabetes.

Mediator has been at the centre of a major medical scandal in France since it was pulled off the market in 2009 after evidence emerged that it had caused hundreds of deaths due to damage to heart valves.

Jacques Servier, the now 90-year-old founder of the Servier bio-pharmaceutical company which produced the drug, is currently on trial in Nanterres, France, for “aggravated fraud.”

Mediator was never authorized in the UK or US.

The Dukan diet, launched in 2000 in France, has had significant global success since being translated into English in recent years, and was reportedly the diet of choice of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton in the run-up to her wedding to Prince William in 2011.

The diet, however, has also attracted widespread criticism from medical experts. In November 2012, the British Dietetic Association ranked the Dukan diet number one in its list of “The Five Worst Celebrity Diets to Avoid,” saying “There is little solid science behind this.”

“This diet is so confusing, time consuming, very rigid and, in our opinion, so very hard to sustain,” the BDA added. 

This is not the first time Dukan has landed in trouble with medical authorities in France. In 2012 France's College of Physicians lodged a complaint against him after it accused him of breaching the ethics code when he suggested schoolchildren's grades should be bumped up if they manage to maintain a healthy weight.

The idea was included in a book brought out by Dukan in January last year.

At the book's launch he said: “There is nothing unhealthy about educating youngsters about nutrition.

“My idea would change nothing for those who have no need to get thinner. But for those who do, it would only motivate them to lose weight.”

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Former Paris deputy mayor ‘charged with rape’, say sources

A former deputy mayor of Paris accused of sexual harassment by a co-worker was charged on Friday with rape and other sexual assaults, several sources said.

Former Paris deputy mayor 'charged with rape', say sources
Pierre Aidenbaum stands behind Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo at a silent march in honour of a murdered Jewish woman. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP
Pierre Aidenbaum, 78, stepped down as deputy mayor last month just weeks after another deputy mayor quit due to protests over his links to a known paedophile.
He was questioned by a judge on Friday and charged, a source close to the case who refused to be named told AFP.
A judicial source, who also wished to remain anonymous, added Aidenbaum had been banned from contacting any victim or witness, and cannot show up at city hall.
His lawyer Maud Touitou told AFP Aidenbaum had been “hit hard” by the accusations against him “and the suffering expressed”.
Aidenbaum's resignation last month came after another deputy to Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Christophe Girard, quit in July.
Opposition politicians and women's groups had demanded his suspension over ties to Gabriel Matzneff, a writer who has never hidden his preference for sex with adolescent girls and boys.
Girard has since himself been accused of sexually abusing a minor in a New York Times report he has vehemently denied.
Aidenbaum remains on the city council despite his resignation as deputy mayor, but on Friday Hidalgo asked him to give up his seat “immediately”.