Monday, May 08, 2006

Did Pfizer Use Nigerian Children as Guinea Pigs?

Those you have seen the movie The Constant Gardner can probably relate to this post better, the only difference is that this isn’t a movie script; it is real, and it occurred in northern Nigeria in 1996!

There are strong indications that Pfizer, the world largest drug manufacturer, did conduct an illegal and fraudulent clinical trail in 1996 at a remote location in Kano, northern Nigeria. The subjects of experiment were some children who were treated for meningitis with an illegal antibiotic called Trovan.
“…Pfizer never obtained authorization from the Nigerian government to give the unproven drug to nearly 100 children and infants. Pfizer selected the patients at a field hospital in the city of Kano, where the children had been taken to be treated for an often deadly strain of meningitis…There are no records documenting that Pfizer told the children or their parents that they were part of an experiment…An approval letter from a Nigerian ethics committee, which Pfizer used to justify its actions had been concocted and backdated by the company's lead researcher in Kano”--Washington Post.
The Washington Post claims it has one of the three copies of the confidential report written by Nigerian experts commissioned in 2000 to investigate the Pfizer clinical trial. What is intriguing is that the report has remained unreleased for five years despite inquiries from the children's attorneys, from the media, and the findings that the ‘experiment violated Nigerian law, the international Declaration of Helsinki that governs ethical medical research and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.’

‘Mum’ is the word in Abuja over the report; the health minister has refused to comment, and everyone connected to the experiment has either developed convenient amnesia or denied any wrongdoing.
“The Nigerian government has neither contacted Pfizer about any of the committee's findings nor are we aware that the committee has approved a final report. Therefore it would be inappropriate for the company to respond to specific points in the document….”-- Pfizer
It is somewhat interesting that the post preceding this dwells on a similar topic- Julius Berger and its unethical drug policies.

The action of Pfizer is not really a surprise because anyone half familiar with modus-operadi of any mega company and multinationals would know how dirty and rotten they are. These non-fictional movies: Erin Brockovich: where a woman ‘single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply’, and The Constant Gardener have shown how it's done.

What is most painful, however, is that those that should be the custodians of the people, somehow, became amnesic when it mattered most. Well, this isn't a surprise either...hasn't this become the norm in Nigeria?

See: for the final piece of this post.