Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and plaintiffs settle lawsuits related to clinical trial of antibiotic Trovan

Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and plaintiffs in the cases related to the clinical trial of antibiotic Trovan, have settled the lawsuits.

Although the suits have been resolved, the tragedy continues for children affected by the trial. The suits alleged that Pfizer conducted clinical trials of the controversial antibiotic "Trovan" on some 200 children without the parents consent. Pfizer says that the 11 children who died during the trial were suffering from meningitis, but the parents disputed this.

Trovan has since been barred from pediatric use and is only available in the US for adult populations, due to side affects.

It looked like the plaintiffs in the case were destined to lose in their next court challenge (at the US Supreme Court), and decided to settle the case.

According to a report by Dow Jones Newswires, "Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said Tuesday it has settled lawsuits stemming from a 1996 clinical trial of the antibiotic Trovan in which 11 Nigerian children died and others suffered health problems.

The New York-based drug maker said the terms of the settlement were confidential. A plaintiffs' attorney in the settlement couldn't be reached.

Pfizer conducted the Trovan trial during in outbreak of cerebral spinal meningitis in Nigeria, with the goal of providing a medicine to treat the disease. Families of the children and the Nigerian government accused the company of experimenting on children without proper consent. Pfizer has maintained it conducted the trial in consultation with Nigerian authorities, and that the deaths were caused by meningitis.

Pfizer previously reached settlements with government bodies in Nigeria."


There is more information about these cases via Law.com (ALM):

"According to Nigerian press reports, the trust fund can pay a maximum of $35,000 per family to those able to prove death or permanent disability due to the 1996 trial of Trovan, an antibiotic that has since been restricted to adult emergency care in America because of its damaging side effects.

Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder said the settlement is confidential and he could not discuss if there were any other terms. Plaintiffs' lawyer Peter Safirstein of Milberg also declined comment beyond the statement.

The suit accused Pfizer of using the experimental drug without the consent of the parents, and of not telling the families that another acceptable drug was available and was being used by Doctors Without Borders in Nigeria to treat the epidemic. Pfizer denied their allegations.

The families battled Pfizer all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and back after U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley, III, had dismissed the suit in 2005. As of a hearing on Friday, the case was still in the pre-trial motion stage.

But earlier this month the plaintiffs' cause took a bleak turn when the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled en banc in a different case that claims against a corporation cannot be brought under the Alien Tort Statute. Rather than risk another dismissal and another appeal that was destined to lose at the next level, the plaintiffs agreed on Friday to settle all claims both in the U.S. and Nigeria.

Pfizer established the $35 million Healthcare/Meningitis Trust Fund as part of settling a suit in 2007 brought by the Kano state government, where the drug trial took place. That settlement also is confidential."


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