[JURIST] The Nigerian government Friday withdrew and then filed an updated $7 billion lawsuit [BBC backgrounder] against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer [corporate website], adding a new charge of fraud stemming from a drug experiment conducted in the 1990s that allegedly killed or disabled children. A Nigerian government lawyer told AP that the fraud charge was added after recently uncovered evidence suggested that Pfizer bypassed company rules requiring family consent before the application of experimental treatments. The government withdrew its original lesser charge of "fraudulent representation," filing a new one, alleging fraud, hours later.
Last month the court rejected a request by Pfizer [JURIST report] to dismiss the lawsuit on technical grounds. Government lawyers delayed filing the case in Nigeria because they wished to see the outcome of a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. That lawsuit was dismissed [order, PDF], with the judge ruling that the case should be heard in Nigeria. Several other lawsuits, both civil and criminal, are ongoing. The cases stem from a study performed during a meningitis outbreak in Kano in 1996. It is alleged that Pfizer treated 100 affected children with an experimental antibiotic called Trovan, while another 100 children were given lower than recommended doses of an approved antibiotic, Ceftriaxone [Wikipedia backgrounders]. As many as 11 children in the study died, while more now suffer from brain damage, paralysis, and other ailments. Pfizer claims that the drugs used saved lives. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.