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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Update – Pfizer’s Trust to Resolve Tort Claims for Africans Claiming Improper Testing

A NYT story by Donald G. McNeil, Jr. provides an update on a trust created by Pfizer to resolve alien tort claims arising from drug testing in Africa. This prior post provides the background from a post on Foley Hoag’s CSR blog. The claims arose from drug testing in Africa, and:

"Pfizer faced pressure as the result of a recent increase in the level of media attention to the case. The heightened scrutiny came about, at least in part, as the result of disclosures in certain diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, which called into question the propriety of Pfizer’s efforts to settle two related cases brought in Nigeria. Those cases were settled in July 2009 for a total of $75 million and attorneys fees.

Mr. McNeil’s article explains, among other things:

"Four families received $175,000 each from a $35 million fund created under the settlement between Pfizer andNigeria’s northern Kano State, where the brief trial of the experimental drug, Trovan, took place. The four families had DNA evidence proving they were related to children who died during the trial.

In all, 11 children died in the trial: five after taking Trovan and six after taking an older antibiotic used for comparison in the clinical trial. Others suffered blindness, deafness and brain damage.

Although Pfizer said that only 200 children had been given Trovan or the older antibiotic, 547 families sued.

Despite having settled the case, the company still contends that meningitis, not its drugs, was responsible for the deaths and injuries, a Pfizer spokesman said Thursday. Epidemics sweep Africa’s arid “meningitis belt” on dust-filled winds during the dry season every year, and more than 12,000 Africans died of meningitis in 1996; in addition, the drugs in the trial were given only to children who were already very sick."

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