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How Low Will They Go? Pfizer Sued For Using Children as Guinea Pigs

Pfizer, one of the world’s biggest drug pushers, has been charged with using 200 Nigerian children as guinea pigs while testing an experimental antibiotic a decade ago that resulted in several deaths.

Authorities in Kano, Nigeria’s biggest state, filed the suit seeking $2.75 billion in compensation. Thirty Nigerian families sued Pfizer in 2001, alleging unethical behavior. A panel of Nigerian medical experts found Pfizer violated international drug laws, as the families never consented to the experimental treatment.

Working alongside the World Health Organization, Pfizer is alleged to have tested the experimental antibiotic, Trovanfloxacin (Trovan), to help the government tackle an outbreak of meningitis, cholera and measles.

The children were infected with meningitis and 11 of them reportedly died while several others were stricken with brain damage, paralysis and deafness.

Pfizer says it  “always acted in the best interest of the children.”  Pfizer was also sued for making claims about their cholesterol drug, Lipitor, two years ago.  

Trovan was once on the market in the United States, despite numerous reports of toxic liver failure and an FDA public health warning, but fortunately has since been withdrawn. And, thanks to the public’s emerging understanding of the dangers of conventional drugs, the once untouchable Pfizer announced a 20 percent cutback in its workforce earlier this year.

Times of London May 21, 2007