Pfizer has unveiled its defense in the Nigerian lawsuit over a clinical trial that allegedly killed 11 children and injured 189 others during a meningitis epidemic. The company says it actually saved lives by administering the experimental antibiotic Trovan. The children who died were victims of the disease itself, not the drug, the court filing states. Pfizer is asking the Nigerian court to throw out the lawsuits altogether.
Trovan has a checkered history: Initially a popular antibiotic in the U.S. and Europe, it was eventually severely restricted (in the States) or banned (in the EU). In the U.S., it was never approved by regulators for use in children. Filed in May, these four lawsuits charge that Pfizer didn't tell the sick children's families that they were participating in a trial. Nigeria is seeking $8.5 billion in penalties, plus pursuing criminal charges against the company and its executives and agents.
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