Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pfizer - Trovan: $75 million settlement

NIGERIA - Kano State government will on Thursday formally sign a historic agreement with Pfizer, the multi-national drug producers, over the contentious drug trial associated with a cerebro-spinal meningitis outbreak in the state in 1996.

The final out-of-court settlement in a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit over the trial of meningitis drug, Trovan, is coming after years of bitter lawsuits between both parties, their lawyers said yesterday.

"We have settled and we are signing an agreement on Thursday, Kano State government has finally reached a $75 million settlement agreement with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company, over the 1996 trovan test in the state. said Aliyu Umar, counsel for Kano State government.

The final agreement between the pharmaceutical giant and the Kano state government is based on an out-of-court settlement agreed by both parties over the three-year drug test in the state.
The state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau had disclosed during an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Network Africa, earlier in the year that he was in London along with leader of the Trovan test victims' chairman, the State Attorney-General and the State Commissioner for Health to finalise agreement and work out modalities with Pfizer executives on how the money would be shared.

Shekarau who explained why the full payment might take up to 2011, said there were certain things that could not come in one fell swoop.

The governor had said then that the victims would receive $35 million; the state government would get $30million, while $10 million would go to the lawyers , stressing that they agreed to out-of-court settlement because of the protracted dimension the legal tussle had taken.

According to him, "The logic behind our amicable settlement out-of-court was that the case may take yet another 10 years before coming to an end," he said. He noted that the settlement was due as it would alleviate the suffering of the victims and the parents of the dead victims.

Shekarau said a committee of trustees involving various stakeholders had been set up to verify the victims and the veracity of their impairment to ensure that justice is done in the sharing of the compensation.

Kano State had instituted a series of lawsuits against Pfizer seeking damages over allegations that the study resulted in brain damage, paralysis or slurred speech in many children.

Eleven children died during the test, which was performed during an outbreak of the disease, but the governments and Pfizer disagreed about whether the deaths were caused by the tests or by meningitis .

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