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Nigerian Press: Pfizer Drug Settlement Fails

POSTED: 02:15 PM ET, 07/ 9/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Infectious Diseases Hospital
The Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kano, Nigeria, was treating meningitis patients in 1996 when Pfizer administered the experimental drug Trovan to children. 2000 photos by Michael Williamson, The Washington Post.

Settlement talks between Pfizer and Nigerian officials broke down last weekend after members of the families of children left injured or dead following a Pfizer drug trial in the West African country more than a decade ago turned down a $10 million compensation offer from the pharmaceutical company.

About 200 Nigerian families who contend their children were harmed rebuked an offer of $10,000 to each victim with "minor deformities" and $100,000 to each victim with "major deformities" or death arising from the Trovan drug test of 1996, the Nigerian Daily Trust reported.

Officials called the offer "demeaning" and "amazing," based on the company's offer to pay $21 million for the settlement of all legal fees incurred by both parties in the case, the newspaper reported.

Pfizer contends that the company actually saved lives during the drug trial, and there is no evidence showing that Trovan actually caused deformity or death.

The clinical drug trial was the subject of a 2000 Post investigation by The Post's Joe Stephens titled "The Body Hunters," which examined drug trials conducted by American corporations in the poorly regulated developing world.

Six years later, a panel of Nigerian medical experts concluded that Pfizer violated international law by testing an unapproved drug on children with brain infections at a field hospital, a lengthy government report given to The Post showed.

Authorities in Kano, the country's largest state, last year filed eight criminal charges related to the 1996 clinical trial, including counts of criminal conspiracy and voluntarily causing grievous harm. They also filed a civil lawsuit seeking more than $2 billion in damages and restitution from Pfizer.

By Derek Kravitz |  July 9, 2008; 2:15 PM ET
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