This Magazine Staff
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is on the receiving end of criminal charges in Nigeria’s largest state of Kano in the aftermath of what the Nigerian government says was an unethical drug trial.
According to a Washington Post report:
The government alleges that Pfizer researchers selected 200 children and infants from crowds at a makeshift epidemic camp in Kano and gave about half of the group an untested antibiotic called Trovan. Researchers gave the other children what the lawsuit describes as a dangerously low dose of a comparison drug made by Hoffmann-La Roche. Nigerian officials say Pfizer’s actions resulted in the deaths of an unspecified number of children and left others deaf, paralyzed, blind or brain-damaged.
The lawsuit says that the researchers did not obtain consent from the children’s families and that the researchers knew Trovan to be an experimental drug with life-threatening side effects that was “unfit for human use.” Parents were banned from the ward where the drug trial occurred, the suit says, and the company left no medical records in Nigeria.
In another report on the case, the Post noted that Pfizer expected to gross $1-billion a year on Trovan in the United States. Revenue targets for Africa were likely a little bit smaller.
The Nigerian government says other health-promotion efforts in the nation have suffered as a result of the controversy. An 11-month boycott of efforts to vaccinate children against polio sprang from the mistrust that emerged from the Pfizer trial, they allege.
Pfizer denies any wrongdoing.