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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pfizer, Nigeria sign drug suit settlement

Abuja - US drugmaker Pfizer and a Nigerian state on Thursday have agreed a $75-million (about R600-million) final settlement for the 1996 drug trials that led to the deaths of 11 children, a joint statement said.

"We are pleased to announce that we have reached a final agreement to settle the Trovan litigation between Pfizer and Kano State government," the statement by the two parties said.

"The parties agreed that settlement is in the best interest of both parties as it avoids the cost and distraction of protracted litigation and enables both of us to focus on our core missions and business," it added.

"The settlement is on the basis of no admission of liability by Pfizer in connection with the 1996 Troval study," the statement said.

The northern state of Kano filed civil and criminal suits against Pfizer demanding $2,75-billion in compensation, as well as the prosecution of staff, for what it said was an illegal test of the meningitis drug Trovan on 200 children.

The trials were carried out in the state capital Kano during a triple epidemic of measles, cholera and meningitis in which more than 12 000 people died.

Eleven children died after taking Trovan, which is also alleged to have caused deformities including blindness, deafness, brain damage and paralysis in 189 others.

However, a case between Nigeria's federal government and Pfizer over the same issue is still pending in court, a government lawyer in the case, Babatunde Irukera, told AFP.

"I believe they (the parties) will engage in discussion and resolve that one too as time goes on," he said.

The joint statement by Kano State and Pfizer on Thursday said that one of the terms of the settlement was that there would be "no admission of liability by Pfizer in connection with the 1996 Troval study."

Under the terms of the deal Pfizer agreed to establish a healthcare/meningitis Trust Fund of up to $35-million and underwrite several Kano State healthcare initiatives, totalling $30-million.

Pfizer will also reimburse Kano for $10-million in legal costs, associated with the litigation, it also said.

"Finally, we are pleased that after several years of litigation, the settlement will bring to an end to all the court cases between Kano State and Pfizer," the statement said. - AFP

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