Pfizer tested drugs on children
In April 2009, Pfizer reportedly reached a tentative agreement on lawsuits regarding the vaccine trials it had conducted in 1996. Pfizer tested Trovan, an oral antibiotic, on children of Nigeria’s Kano state. To avoid the lengthy clinical trial process required by the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer decided to expedite the production of Trovan.
According to the cable 09ABUJA671, Pfizer tested its efficacy on Kano children during a meningitis epidemic, with the help of Doctors Without Borders. This bypasses national and international standards on medical ethics and put the lives of the Kano children in danger.
Since the testing, there has been one civil suit and one criminal case in both the Kano State and Federal High Courts. The Pfizer lawyers have worked closely with a former Nigerian Head of State on a $75 million settlement. The breakdown of the settlement would provide $10 million for legal fees; $30 million to the Kano State government; and $35 million to participants and families.
The US government was fully aware of the cases against Pfizer in Nigeria and helped Pfizer develop a new framework to conduct future testing in Nigeria. Pfizer considers Nigeria to be a major growth market and is working hard to restore its image there.
UPDATE 04 January, 2010: Doctors Without Borders has stated that it never participated in clinical trials of Trovan with Pfizer. Doctors Without Borders has posted an official press release addressing this issue here.