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Nigeria and Pfizer Near Deal on Child Deaths

POSTED: 03:27 PM ET, 04/ 3/2009 by The Editors

Anas Mustapha, a Nigerian child believed to have been subjected to a Pfizer drug trial during the '96 meningitis epidemic, now suffers brain damage. (George Osodi / AP File 2007)

More than eight years after The Washington Post investigated a clinical drug trial carried out by Pfizer Inc. in Nigeria, the pharmaceutical giant appears to have reached a general agreement to settle charges that the company acted illegally.

The Nigerian state of Kano had filed civil and criminal cases alleging that Pfizer illegally tested the experimental drug Trovan on gravely ill children during a 1996 meningitis epidemic. Eleven children died in the trial and others were permanently disabled.

A Pfizer lawyer and the Kano state attorney general said today that they had reached a broad agreement. Nigerian lawyers close to the negotiations told The Post that Pfizer has asked for a number of conditions, the specifics of which remain undisclosed. Lawyers said a target sum of $75 million had been discussed in recent days.

Pfizer has long asserted that the 1996 clinical study was conducted with the approval of the Nigerian government and the consent of the participants' parents or guardians. The trial violated no international or Nigerian laws, the company said.

The Post articles in 2000 found that Pfizer carried out the experiment on 200 children at a makeshift epidemic camp in the northern Nigerian town of Kano. The articles reported that Pfizer had no signed consent forms for the children and relied on a falsified ethics approval letter to defend the design of the experiment.

Trovan was never approved for use by American children. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for adults in 1998 but later severely restricted its use after reports of liver failure. The European Union banned the drug in 1999.

By The Editors |  April 3, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
Previous: Blagojevich, Brothers Indicted; Geithner Fell Short at NY Fed; New Rule May Revalue Toxic Assets | Next: Summers Earned $5.2M From Hedge Fund; Madoff Complaint Implicates Aide; Pfizer Settles Drug-Trial Case


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