The Nigerian government is suing Pfizer (PFE) claiming that it "deceived patients and caused the death of 11 children in 1996 when it performed clinical trials for a new drug." According to the government, the people were tricked during a meningitis outbreak killed more than 12,000 children in six months.
The drug in question, Trovan, was found by the FDA to cause some liver problems. But, Pfizer says that is brought the drug to Nigeria because the government asked for the help during the health crisis.
Did Pfizer really need to go to Nigeria to do a drug trial when it could probably have done similar research in a number of other places around the world? Now it is faced with an $8.5 billion lawsuit.
Pfizer may be lying. It may have come to Nigeria to do testing. It may have seen the crisis there as a back-door to get some quick research done.
But, all of that seems improbable. What is more likely is that US drug companies will be much more likely to help developing countries when they have a health crisis.
Douglas A. McIntyre