5 February 2014

Nigeria: Pfizer Drug Test Victims File Fresh Suit

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One hundred and eighty six victims of the 1996 Pfizer Trovan clinical trial in Kano have filed fresh suit in an FCT High Court challenging alleged breach of terms of settlement over the damages suffered in the drugs tests.

In the motion, filed in November last year by Chiagozie Hilary Nwokonko and Olayinka Olajuwon on behalf of the 186 victims, who represent the first set of claimants, they are demanding a total sum of N131 million to be paid separately as general damages.

Specifically, the claimants want the court to compel Pfizer to continue compensation using the remaining aspects of the six criteria as set out in the 'Terms of Settlement and Non-Prosecution Agreement' entered into with the Kano State Government in Abuja on July 30, 2009.

They contend that limiting the criteria for compensation to only the DNA tests, where spine fluid sample of drug test participants were marched with claimants, shut out many victims and breached the terms of agreement.

Joined as defendants in the suit are; Pfizer Incorporated, Pfizer Specialties Ltd, The Healthcare Meningitis Trust Fund Ltd/GTD, Chief Anthony Ikemefula Idigbe and Bode Technoloby Incorporated.

Counsel to Pfizer, George Uwechue (SAN) at the hearing yesterday, brought a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter because the incident and the firm are not in Abuja. He added that Pfizer has concluded payments to the victims and set up a meningitis Trust in Kano.

Uwechue and counsel to the victims Etigwe Uwa (SAN) both told the court that there is an ongoing out-of-court settlement discussion between the parties.

Justice Adebukola Banjoko ordered the inclusion of Bode Technology Incorporated-the firm which conducted the DNA tests on claimants- in the ongoing settlement discussions.

She adjourned the suit to April 7 and 8 for the report of settlement and definite hearing.

200 children were in 1996 registered at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Kano for clinical tests on a new meningitis drug: 'Trovafloxacin' from the US-based pharmaceutical company which led to several deaths and deformities.

The Kano State government and the victims instituted both criminal and civil actions in 2007. However, the parties in 2009 opted to settle out of court.


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