Who should get a share of the $35 million in compensation that Pfizer has agreed to pay over the Trovan scandal? The issue has plagued Nigerian officials even before a $75 million settlement was reached last summer. Back in late 2008, negotiations with the drugmaker were complicated by a fictitious list of victims making the rounds (see here)
Now, however, Nigerian families are refusing compensation because DNA testing is being required, according to Agence France-Presse. The testing is sought because none of the claimants met other requirements (see this). But a letter written by Streamsowers & Kohn law firm asked a board of trustees appointed by Pfizer and the Kano state government to immediately cease processing claims over concerns that DNA samples may be secretly switched, depriving victims of compensation.
The letter accuses Pfizer, among others, of unfairly insisting on conducting DNA tests, which would be used for identification purposes, on victims and their families. "We are concerned that your board has accepted Pfizer's claim to have DNA samples of our clients without independent verification," the letter says. "Your board has failed to answer the pertinent question of how it intends to confirm that any DNA samples Pfizer may send are not those of children from other parts of Nigeria or indeed Africa."
The 1996 Trovan study was conducted on about 200 children and took place during a meningitis epidemic that killed 12,000 children, but Nigerians claim Pfizer didn’t obtain proper regulatory approval for the trial and misled parents. The study allegedly left 11 children dead and the others were deformed.
Pfizer denied the charges and settled the bulk of litigation this summer by agreeing to pay $75 million to settle civil and criminal charges brought by the Kano State government in Nigeria, far less than the $9 billion sought by Nigerian officials. Of the $75 million, $35 million is earmarked for compensating victims.