Drug Company Injured, Killed Children in 'Secret Testing'

Wednesday, August 29

NEW YORK (AP) - Pfizer Inc. was accused in a lawsuit Wednesday of causing
brain damage and sometimes death to Nigerian children when it conducted
"secret testing" of a new meningitis drug in 1996.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks unspecified
damages on behalf of 30 children who participated in the drug trial in
Kano, in northern Nigeria.

The children were among 200 youngsters who were part of the testing of
Trovan, an unproven drug administered in a form never before tested on
humans, the lawsuit says.

The families of seven of 11 children who died after participating in the
test were among plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit.

A telephone message left with Pfizer was not immediately returned.

According to the lawsuit, the tests were conducted during an epidemic of
bacterial meningitis in Nigeria that left children desperate for medical

"Rather than provide the children with a safe, effective and proven therapy
for bacterial meningitis, Pfizer chose to select children to participate in
a medical experiment of a new, untested and unproven drug without first
obtaining their informed consent," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit asserts that the drug was known to have life-threatening
effects that soon surfaced during the tests in an impoverished city
experiencing epidemics of bacterial meningitis, measles and cholera.

The lawsuit says Pfizer hurried plans to carry out its tests, taking a
variety of steps that violated international law, federal regulations and
medical ethics.