Enlarge / Demonstrators gather near the National Assembly as they protest against the new chemical formula of the Levothyrox, a manufactured form of the thyroid hormone, in Paris on September 8, 2017. (credit: Getty | CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT )
In the six months since pharmaceutical giant Merck reformulated a thyroid hormone replacement drug distributed in France, patients there have filed dozens of lawsuits. Hundreds of thousands signed a petition to reverse the change, and around 9,000 reported illnesses and side-effects, some dramatic.

They complain of hair loss, cramps, weight gain, extreme fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, dizziness, memory loss, and heart palpitations.
The outcry has created a political and media blitz. Rumors and conspiracy theories have flown, including that Merck switched production of the drug to a plant in China to cut costs. (The drug, which has no competition in France, is produced in Europe.)
Bowing to the intense backlash, the French government began investigating and last week made the unprecedented request that Merck restore the old drug formulation to the market, Science reported. On Tuesday, French police searched the drug maker’s plant in Lyon, Reuters reported.

Authorities are investigating whether Merck is guilty of “aggravated deceit, involuntary attacks on the physical integrity and endangering the lives of others,” according to a translated report by Le Monde.
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