Pfizer pay $50m damages for antibiotic experiment on Nigerians

For decades, pharmaceutical and chemical companies such as Pfizer and Monsanto have been posing as beneficent, caring organisations, while doctoring research results to gain licenses and win law suits. They did particularly well under the last few US administrations; the FDA is said to be corrupt and in cohoots with Big Pharma, encouraged by government.

Recently, Pfizer agreed to pay £75m in settlement of a class action suit filed by a group of Nigerian parents who claim that Pfizer harmed their children by using them as guinea pigs in an unlicensed drug trial. 5% of the children died and others suffered brain damage, organ failure and other serious side-effects.

In 1996, Pfizer needed to test its antibiotic, Trovan, in order to obtain FDA approval. At the time, Nigeria was plagued by meningitis, cholera and measles, so Pfizer flew a research team to the country and set up a station a few yards from where Doctors Without Borders were dispensing free treatments to the locals. Parents were not told that their children were participating in a drug trial, nor that laboratory testing on animals had caused liver and joint damage.

One Pfizer researcher who did not join the research team in Nigeria, Juan Walterspiel, wrote to William Steere, Pfizer’s CEO, complaining that the study was “in violation of ethical rules.” and that “Some of the children were in critical condition and most of them malnourished, which made oral absorption even more unpredictable […] At least one died after a single oral dose.”

Pfizer has had hundreds of charges of unethical practice levied against it including the suppression of negative studies of its drug Neurontin, which can induce suicidal tendencies. An attorney fighting a case against the company called Pfizer’s actions “scientific misconduct and unethical behavior.”

Recently Pfizer ended a clinical trial for the cholesterol drug, Torcetrapib, after a significant number of patients (1%) died. Others developed heart problems. Consumer health campaigner and author, Mike Adams opines:

“I believe this decision would never have been reached without the increased scrutiny now being directed at Big Pharma […] In my opinion, if this drug had been developed five years ago, the trial results would have been tweaked to make it appear safer, and the drug would have been released anyway.”

“Pfizer announced just two days before this decision that it was seeking FDA approval for the drug […] No one in their right mind should believe that the FDA would have denied approval for this drug, especially while the agency continues to support Vioxx, a drug that has killed more than 50,000 Americans.”

Update: Thanks to banned, who flagged up The Constant Gardener movie . Watch:

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