Pfizer to pay $75 million for Nigerian clinical trial

July 31, 2009

Thirteen year after 11 children enrolled in a clinical trial died, Pfizer has agreed to pay $75 million in damages.

Thirteen year after 11 children enrolled in a clinical trial died, Pfizer has agreed to pay $75 million in damages.

In 1996, Pfizer enrolled 200 children in a clinical trial for its antibiotic trovafloxacin (Trovan): half received the study drug, and half a competitor, ceftriaxone (Rocephin). Eleven children died, and many more have disabilities, lawyers for the trial subjects say. This happened during an outbreak of meningitis. Pfizer says the deaths were due to the outbreak, but the Nigerian government said Pfizer rushed to the outbreak to test the drug, and led participants to believe they were receiving aid, not testing a drug.

A panel of medical experts in Nigeria found Pfizer to have been at fault for not receiving informed consent, or even letting any participants know they were receiving a study drug. The report was suppressed for a number of years, but was leaked to the Washington Post in 2006. Last year, Nigeria sued Pfizer.

The settlement figure is a far cry from the $5 billion originally asked for. Of the total, $35 million will go to the victims, $10 million for legal costs, and $30 million for the betterment of health care in parts of Nigeria. The settlement talks were begun by former president Jimmy Carter and former Nigerian president Yakubu Gowon earlier this year.

There may be a second class action suit, this one filed in America instead of Nigeria, for Pfizer to still content with.