Processing Magazine

Pfizer faces $8.5 billion suit over Nigeria drug trial

October 1, 2007

A court case brought by Nigeria against Pfizer resumes on Wednesday with the U.S. drug maker saying it answered a call for help to save the lives of African children during a meningitis epidemic, according to Reuters. Nigeria alleges Pfizer deceived patients and caused the death of 11 children in 1996 when it performed clinical trials for a new drug. With the northern state of Kano, it is suing the company for $8.5 billion. The meningitis outbreak killed more than 12,000 children in six months near Kano, a predominantly Muslim metropolis with a history of conflict with the West. Meningitis is an infection of the nervous system that can kill in hours if left untreated. Nigeria alleges Pfizer was responsible for the deaths of 11 children and permanent health problems for many others. It says it failed to obtain all the required approvals for the test and did not get proper consent from the patients. Pfizer rejects all the charges. The case was first brought in the United States, but thrown out in 2005 by a judge who said it should be heard in Nigeria. On Wednesday, Pfizer will be in two courts for civil and criminal proceedings brought by the Kano state government. The federal government has also brought civil and criminal charges.