Pfizer to pay $75mil for unethical Nigeria drug trial

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Independent‘s Daniel Howden reports that, for about $75 million, Pfizer has settled cases related to a disastrous unlicensed medical trial in Nigeria. The trial involved the experimental broad-spectrum antibiotic Trovan trial on 100 Nigerian children trapped in the midst of a devastating outbreak. Pfizer called the trial a humanitarian mission but did not get the consent of parents or the Nigerian government.

trovan
Howden tells the story of the trial itself, which Pfizer conducted near a legitimate Doctors Without Borders clinic:

From the crowd that had gathered at the Kano Infectious Diseases Hospital, 200 sick children were picked. Half were given doses of the experimental Pfizer drug called Trovan and the others were treated with a proven antibiotic from a rival company.

Eleven of the children died and many more, it is alleged, later suffered serious side-effects ranging from organ failure to brain damage.

Pfizer’s defense, meanwhile, was almost as sketchy as the trial itself:

Pfizer has denied this and says consent had been given by the Nigerian state and the families of those treated. It produced a letter of permission from a Kano ethics committee. The letter turned out to have been backdated and the committee set up a year after the original medical trial.

Finally, Howden notes that the legal wrangling isn’t over yet, thanks to a court ruling dictating that Pfizer could stand trial in the United States as well.

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