Supremes: Pfizer has to face Nigerian claims

The U.S. Supreme Court won't stop Nigerians from suing Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) in U.S. court. It was the company's last attempt to forestall lawsuits over the much-publicized Nigerian clinical trial of Trovan, a meningitis drug.

Pfizer tested Trovan on Nigerian children during a 1996 meningitis epidemic. Afterward, families of some of the children alleged that the experimental drug had caused deaths and disabling injuries. The families not only sued Pfizer in Nigeria, but also in the U.S., saying that the company violated international law by failing to obtain adequate consent from the patients, Reuters reports. The company says it didn't break the law, and it had consent from the trial participants' parents or guardians. 

The Nigerian suits have since been settled. And until recently, Pfizer thought it had dispensed with the U.S. lawsuits, because a judge initially tossed them. But an appeals court reinstated them, and now the Supreme Court is letting that reinstatement stand.

The ruling doesn't address the facts in the cases, as Pfizer emphasizes in a statement to Pharmalot: "The Supreme Court order returns the cases for further consideration to the District Court, where the company has reserved its right to again move to dismiss the cases on various grounds, including the fact that Nigeria is the appropriate forum for the cases to be heard."

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