Death & Deformity Among 'Guinea Pig' Children

By NRG Tryp · Dec 2, 2008 · ·
  1. NRG Tryp
    Death, deformity among ‘guinea pig’ children

    Kano - Nigeria’s largest state has sued US drug firm Pfizer for allegedly using 200 children as “guinea pigs” for a drug test in 1996 that led to multiple deaths and deformities, officials said Sunday. Authorities in Kano filed the suit last week at the high court, where they are seeking 2.75 billion dollars (2.04 billion euros) in compensation from the pharmaceutical giant.
    The state accuses Pfizer of “secretly using children as guinea pigs to test a drug under the guise of humanitarian gesture”. Preliminary hearings in the suit have been fixed for June 4.
    Back in April 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pfizer volunteered to help in Kano following an outbreak of measles, cholera and meningitis that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people.
    Pfizer was alleged to have administered an untested drug called Trovan Floxacin without authorisation on almost 200 children infected with meningitis in the state.
    Eleven of the children reportedly died, while the remaining 181 were said to have suffered from deafness, paralysis, brain damage and blindness.

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  1. superdupernaut
    Good god. That's over 12 million each. Way to much money. They could be grateful to pfizer for the lives that were saved.
  2. snapper
    Fluoroquinolones antibiotics, of which trovan floxacin is a member, are very effective but some can have lots of permanent debilitating side effects, and many drugs in this class have been pulled from the market after FDA approval. Given that 200 doses were given and all 200 children were effected, they did not really save any lives that other more well understood antibiotics would have. Sounds like a they thought they had a liability free pool for human trials and now are being held accountable for it.
  3. Lunar Loops
    I really hope that to be true, but I won't believe it for a second until a verdict comes in. Large corporations, best lawyers, endless wads of cash, no conscience and a willingness to use any methods necessary to win.......I hope they get toasted, but somehow doubt.....perhaps I just got out of bed on the cynical side this morning.
  4. fnord
    What lives were saved? And what price would you say a childs life is worth?

    i doubt theyll get what they deserve,which would be jail time. If i tested a chemical on people and i was responsible for multiple deaths/deformities you could easily bet i would be in jail in a second,probably a federal one. why should a corperation have different standerds?
  5. superdupernaut
    There was a control group given standard medicine. I'd imagine, (I had difficulty finding the facts, I don't feel like searching all night) that the overall death and debilitation rate for the untreated was higher than for the 'guinea pigs'. Meningitis is a killer, and much of the permanant supposedly drug related side effects are known to be caused by meningitis. I haven't looked it up, but I'd bet my left nut that Pfizer has contributed a great deal to human aid in Nigeria.

    Some would say life is cheap, especially in the third world. I don't hold this view, but neither do I think it is proper to pay millions of dollars for the pain and suffering of the family of a manslaughter victim.

    I am in favor of criminal prosecutions for the pfizer execs and personnel (not neccasarily convictions, lets see how the evidence pans out).
  6. fnord
    Kano-Nigeria Versus Pfizer Pharmaceuticals; An Update Paul I. Adujie

    Since the publication of my previous article on the illegal, unapproved and unethical clinical trials by Pfizer, in which Pfizer inflicted 11 deaths, injuries and sundry disfigurements upon innocent Nigerian children in Kano; there have been new developments - developments in which Pfizer is seeking, essentially, to have it, both ways!

    Among these recent developments are, the informed withdrawal and re-filing, with amendments to the law suit filed by representative of Nigerian victims of Pfizer's illegal actions. The amendments enables the originators of the litigation to adjust and re-emphasize, and it does emphasizes, the gravity and most egregious nature of the illegal and unethical activities that were conducted by Pfizer upon helpless, sick, innocent and hapless Nigerian children. Pfizer's murderous illegalities resulted in the death of 11 of our children.

    Furthermore, Pfizer has recently moved a motion or filed an application in which Pfizer has argued, urged and asked a Nigerian court to quash or dismiss the pending litigation against Pfizer arguing that Pfizer is an American company, over which a Nigerian court may not exercise any jurisdiction.

    Subsequent substantive hearings in these court proceedings, have been scheduled and reschedule, some others have been adjourned, certain parts are adjourned, up until October 2007. There are criminal and civil legal cases that have been filed against Pfizer. These cases are currently proceeding simultaneously and some portions, pending or making some progress. These cases against Pfizer were brought by Kano State and the Nigerian Federal Government of Nigeria. Nigeria is expected to prevail in the quest for compensation verdict or judgments against Pfizer to benefit the victims of Pfizer's illegalities that resulted in death, maiming and sundry disfigurements of Nigerian children

    At this stage though, the applications or motions by Pfizer is very significant; this is so, in view of the fact the fact that Pfizer had previously deployed this tactic in New York successfully. Pfizer had a couple of years ago, argued that an American court in New York, did not possess the requisite jurisdictional predicate to enable the American court to permit the parties (the Nigerian victims/plaintiffs with their legal representatives on the one hand, and Pfizer the offending defendant on the other) to litigate or canvass issues of law and fact before the American court, sitting in New York.

    The said American court accordingly, ruled in favor of Pfizer, albeit, while asserting that Nigeria was the proper forum and venue to litigation the consequences and Pfizer's liabilities which arose from Pfizer's frauds and criminal acts in Nigeria. The American court in New York dismissed the suit initiated by the Nigerian victims of Pfizer's illegal, unapproved, untested and profit motivated inhumane clinical trials, using innocent Nigerian children in a guinea pig-like medical or pharmacological experiments. That judgment in essence, was that Nigeria is the proper venue or forum, as the activities or events being litigated occurred, transpired or took place in Nigeria. This is being appealed.

    Pfizer has in Nigeria, now resuscitated its old winning argument used successfully before a New York court. Pfizer is now using the same arguments in before a court in Nigeria. Pfizer has in effect, literarily, regurgitated its jurisdictional predicate defense; A defense that Pfizer had similarly adduced before an American court in the very recent past.

    Pfizer is now invoking this same defense to vitiate and deflects its responsibilities to compensate Nigerian victims of Pfizer medical misadventures.

    Jeanne Lenzer, an American journalist, and prolific writer on medical and pharmaceutical matters, sent an e-mail to me last week in reaction to Pfizer's spurious defense in courts, both in America and Nigeria. Jeanne Lenzer titled her e-mail to me, "incredible, rage and fury!" She did so upon learning of the new developments in the cases in Nigeria.

    She and I, have had previous conversations about these cases in Nigeria brought against Pfizer and what appears to be Pfizer's tone-deaf attitude, since the inception of these cases

    Jeanne Lenzer's words, describes and aptly encapsulates my feelings exactly. It is incredible, it is outrageous! Pfizer's actions and current attitude, has caused all reasonable persons to be irate at Pfizer for the killings of innocent Nigerian children, only to want to dodge compensations for victims, in Pfizer's current desperate tactics.

    Pfizer is incredulously, amazingly casual and cavalier, over its actions which led to the death of Nigerian children. Pfizer has demonstrated extreme depravities by, first conducting illegal clinical trials in Kano, with Trovan, an untested and unapproved drug. A drug which American regulatory agency, the Foods and Drugs Administration, specifically forbade use on children. Despite Pfizer's knowing infliction of injuries and death on Nigerian children; Pfizer continues to be evasive, as it denies responsibilities and clear liability. Pfizer has a duty to compensate the Nigerian victims of its illegal actions in Kano

    Pfizer's atrocious clinical trials in Nigeria, are reminiscent of the infamous Tuskegee experiment on African Americans as human guinea pigs, Tuskegee experiment was illegal and it violated local, state and federal laws. An experiment in which, victims who were exposed Syphilis, were deliberately left untreated.

    Similarly, Pfizer's willfully and knowingly, violated American and Nigerian laws, when Pfizer proceeded to inflict injuries and death on Nigerian children with the use Trovan on children in Kano. Pfizer violated well-established international clinical trial protocols. Pfizer engaged in flagrant violations of laws and engaged in unethical practices. Pfizer, in complete disregard for common sense and human decency.

    Clearly, Pfizer does not put any value or any worth, on the lives of Nigerian children! Hence Pfizer knowingly caused the death of 11 innocent Nigerian children in Kano as Pfizer maimed and injured many other children. All these, as a result, and due to Pfizer's greed for profits or money at the expense of human lives in Nigeria. Pfizer's attitude to the Nigerian children, should therefore be seen for what it is, extremely obnoxious.

    I am irate at Pfizer for its offensive attitude in connection with the murderous killings of innocent Nigerian children in Kano. Pfizer has shown no remorse. Pfizer's rotten attitude and its devaluation of the Nigerian lives informed and influenced its warped and twisted clinical trials in Kano, which was replete with illegalities and sundry ethical violations.

    Pfizer has not demonstrated a scintilla of regret, over the unwarranted deaths, maiming and disfigurements caused by Pfizer to Nigerian children in Kano.

    There ought to be public outrage against Pfizer. One has to wonder why there is no fury and umbrage in Nigeria directed at Pfizer. Where is the Nigerian Media/Press? Where are the Nigerian medical and pharmaceutical professionals/workers?

    What would it take to enlighten and inform the Nigerian public of Pfizer's actions, including its current attempt to avoid accountability for Pfizer's killing of innocent Nigerian children?

    Nigerians must NOT allow Pfizer to get away from the atrocities, which Pfizer committed in Kano. Nigerians must not allow Pfizer to benefit from its ability to speak from both sides of its mouth. Pfizer must not be allowed to get away with its multiple murderous killings of 11 innocent Nigerian children. We know that Pfizer is humongous multinational pharmaceutical corporation, a behemoth; but Pfizer is not above the law, rules, ethics and other well established clinical trials, protocols. Pfizer violated all these, in its actions in Kano Nigeria.

    Even now, Pfizer is seeking to defeat its victims in Nigeria. Pfizer seeks to defeat the Nigerian victims of its illegal and ethical acts in Kano. It is clear that Pfizer put profits, money and greed above human lives in Nigeria. And out of greed, Pfizer is attempting to truncate the compensation cases that have arisen from Pfizer's atrocities; Pfizer used an argument of absence or lack of jurisdiction over Pfizer itself, as defense in America, and now, as well in Nigeria.

    If Pfizer succeeds in Nigeria, with its current argument of "absence or lack of jurisdiction" it would have eluded sanctions and accountability in America and Nigeria. Pfizer would have in effect established that it is above the laws in two continents, that Pfizer is above the law, period. And no one can hold them to account, that must not be allowed to happen

    On a related note, matters of jurisdictional predicate, and exercising such, over Nigerians and Nigerian entities, have been litigated in the most recent past and in an equally high profile case. A civil case initiated by some Nigerians, such as Chief Anthony Enahoro and the Abiolas etc. Certainly, must have heard or subsequently become aware of the fact that two American court in Detroit, Michigan and later, another court in Chicago, Illinois assumed jurisdiction over General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state of Nigeria, as he was sued a couple of years ago, for human rights violations by parties already mentioned.

    Nigerian former leader has faced civil legal action in Detroit and Chicago respectively, in the United States. Abubakar lawyers argued absence or lack of jurisdiction of an American court over the former Nigerian leader, unsuccessfully. This, despite the fact that a Nigerian head of state has political immunity, and enjoys diplomatic immunity.

    Such political and diplomatic immunity or protections from legal encumbrances or impediments, which may arise from actions undertaken in such leader's official capacity, while acting as a head of state. A former Nigerian head of state, ought to be afforded, bestowed or be able to enjoy full diplomatic immunity and protections. And persons of General Abubakar's stature, caliber and high political profile, is so entitled.

    Besides, all these have happened, even though Nigeria is a friendly nation with America, with full cordial economic, trade and diplomatic relations

    Regardless of these age-old established traditions and conventions, treaties and immutable usual practices of diplomatic finesse; two American courts, in Detroit, and then, Chicago, assumed jurisdiction over our former political leader, all, to our national chagrin. Perhaps to enable political propaganda at the expense of Nigeria?

    Why then, as it appears, all of a sudden, an American court, removed itself, from considering the serious and very grave charges proffered against Pfizer in New York, over Pfizer's illegal and unethical clinical trials in Kano Nigeria which resulted in 11 deaths and injuries to many Nigerian children.

    Why then would an American suddenly lack or refuse to exercise jurisdiction over an entity that is, for all intent and purposes, both American and Nigerian? An entity that is actively engaged in business activities in Nigeria, with consequences touching Nigerians directly, including the aforementioned 11 deaths in Kano that resulted from Pfizer's acts?

    Could this sudden shift of the goal post in the middle of an important tournament, be as a result the economic consequences that would be visited on an American wrongdoer corporation as Nigerians succeeds in making Pfizer account illegalities committed in Nigeria?

    Could it be because an American company is about to be exposed in Nigerian courts and compelled to pay for its horribly brutal actions? Could it be because of the consequent liability and great economic loss which Pfizer must suffer, liability which Pfizer endure as a result of verdicts and judgments that will arise in favor of Nigerian victims?

    Nigerian victims of Pfizer's ignominious acts in Kano, have rightly asked and demanded compensation from Pfizer. Pfizer perpetrated acts of horrors against countless innocent Nigerian children and these children's who are compelled to haplessly grapple and tackle with the after-effects of Pfizer's illegal, unethical and depraved clinical trials in Kano City.

    Pfizer and other corporations operating in Nigeria, must be informed that they are not above the laws. They must learn to respect the laws and lives in Nigeria
  7. NRG Tryp
    Update on the lawsuit against Pfizer

    Nigerian families can sue the Pfizer drugs giant in the US over its alleged role in the deaths of children, a US appeals court has ruled.

    The decision overturns a ruling by a lower court that the case must be heard in Nigeria.

    Pfizer is accused of killing 11 children and injuring 181 others when an antibiotic was tested on them during a meningitis epidemic in 1996.

    Pfizer denies the claims, saying they were victims of the outbreak.

    The epidemic killed 12,000 children in Nigeria in six months.

    The families say that Pfizer tested out an oral antibiotic called Trovan on some 200 ill children in hospital in Kano, without first getting the consent of their parents.

    They say the drug killed 11 children and caused blindness, deformities and brain damage in others.

    Their original law suit had been dismissed on the grounds that it could not be pursued under the Alien Tort Statute, an old law allowing foreigners to sue in the US courts. But the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the statute could be used.

    Peter Safirstein, a lawyer for the Nigerians, said the ruling was "very, very important".

    Pfizer has always maintained that the tests were carried out with the approval of the Nigerian government and that the children's parents were fully informed. In a statement, the company said it had great sympathy for those affected by the epidemic but that "all clinical evidence points to the fact that any deaths or injuries were the direct result of the illness, and not the treatment provided to patients in the Pfizer study".

    Pfizer said it remained "confident that it will prevail".
  8. chibi curmudgeon
    Does anyone know if the drug had already been through trials before this? Had they completed animal testing and gotten approval for human testing yet?
  9. NRG Tryp
    Trovaflaxin, sold as Trovan by Pfizer was previously untested until the trials in Kano. That includes human and animal alike.
  10. RoboCodeine7610
    That's a crazy amount of money for a drug company that was trying to cure a disease.Plus, I don't think they just kidnapped the children and tested drugs on them, I'm sure it was done with the parent's consent.
  11. chibi curmudgeon
    Even if the parents consented, I don't think it was informed consent.

    "Hi, we'd like to test this drug on your children. We usually test it on animals first, but your kids are cheaper and more expendable than rats."

    Anyone who would respond to that with anything other than a swift kick in the gonads should not be a parent. I suppose it's better than selling your kids into prostitution....maybe....
  12. RoboCodeine7610
    You have to understand, this happened in a very undeveloped country and parents would have their kids do anything for even the smallest ammount of money.They probably thought it wouldn't be a big deal and when their kids started diying and going deaf they got all pissed off even though they agreed to it on the first place.Plus, they probably think they can get more money out of the deal...
  13. nibble
    I tend to agree with this view of it honestly. People in western countries hold uncountable value in their child but, and this may sound cruel, a lot of people in developing nations simply don't.

    People are always very fast to take shots at big pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Yes I do agree they make far too much money and enforce patents to keep their meds at ridiculously high prices but despite this I believe we would all be a lot worse off without them.
  14. chibi curmudgeon
    I'm a vegetarian, so I really can't say humans are worth so much more than rats and monkeys. But Pfizer's attempt to get away with using humans as their first in vivo subjects is pretty disgusting. They wouldn't have tried this on wealthy Americans. They used Nigerian children because they thought they wouldn't get caught.

    People in developing countries don't value their children quite so much only because they kind of expect them to die. Losing a child to the flu or dysentery or tetanus unfortunately isn't a big surprise.
  15. enquirewithin
    Using people as human guinea pigs for new drugs in developing countries is common practice with Big Pharma (there are other threads on this). To SWIY, humans may be worth no more than rats, but to those people their children are.

    Whoever took the decision to do this should be prosecuted for manslaughter at least in cases like this. The corporations involved only stop when the consequences are serious enough.
  16. NRG Tryp
    I can understand both sides of that. maybe parents are willing to let their children go through more than death itself just for a quick buck, or maybe the parents really are completely devastated by the happenings after the drug was tested using their children as guinea pigs.
    My personal opinion is that the drug company/companies are more concerned with money than telling the truth, then making the money. I doubt that the parents consented to anything. If I'm wrong and they did consent, then I highly doubt that the parents were warned that possible side effects could be ANYTHING. They had never tested it. It could have killed the children instantly. I don't think that the company would've told the parents that simply because nobody is going to give their child something that could do absolutely anything, even kill them within minutes. No parent, no matter how money-hungry, would do that. I have a child, and even if I were in the wrong mind to do something like that, I would feel more guilt than anything to give their life up in the name of science. It's a flesh & blood aspect of life. Nothing effected me more than having a child. Nothing would kill me more inside than letting them die. Unless it was my fault that they died.
  17. Decstar
    Hey, this doesn't just happen in Africa, it happens in the USA too. Check out
    "Epa Test's toxic pesticides on Kids" on YouTube.

  18. KunthyNurse
    I cannot believe this.

    In my country they would shoot the person who is responsible in the head.

    NOBODY!!!! Even the highest Police Officer in my country was shot a few weeks ago.

    Enough is enough!

    I am a nurse and I cannot understand people who support this.

    Kunthy from Cambodia
  19. Sven99
    Got anything to back that idea up, or is it just gut instinct? Just because infant death is more common in the developing world does not mean in any way that people there don;t love their children as much. And it certainly doesn't mean they are more likely to expose them to risk of death.

    Just because we would be worse off without them doesn't mean that they shouldn't be held responsible for their actions. Finding out whether or not they did it is up to the courts, not for internet discussion threads. But arguing that it shouldn't even go to court is arguing that Companies should not be accountable to the law.
  20. Decstar
    Here in the UK and I guess the USA we are being so poisoned by the hormone mimicing dioxins in the plastics that we are not only loosing our natural male instinct to protect, but we are becoming sterile, girls are going into puberty at the age of 4 or 5, and breast cancer and testicular. And the same thing is happening to the wildlife with certain species of frogs and fish becoming hermaphrodidic and sterile. No wonder we have no balls left! Nobody is talking about this because it is too scarey. Its like we are on a ship and we see the iceberg but we can't turn it around. Meanwhile the number one public health problem according to the Department of Health is cannabis! And indeed if you go to their website today that is exactly what the top news story is on their home page -

    Decstar added 14 Minutes and 7 Seconds later...

    Here in the UK, and I guess the USA, we are being so poisoned by the hormone mimicing dioxins in the plastics that we are not only losing our natural male instinct to protect, but we are becoming sterile, girls are going into puberty at the age of 4 or 5, and breast cancer and testicular. And the same thing is happening to the wildlife with certain species of frogs and fish becoming hermaphrodidic and sterile. No wonder we have no balls left! Nobody is talking about this because it is too scarey. Its like we are on a ship and we see the iceberg but we can't turn it around. Meanwhile the number one public health problem according to the Department of Health is cannabis! And indeed if you go to their website today that is exactly what the top news story is on their home page.

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