Both sides are "keen" to reach a deal over charges that Pfizer's 1996 clinical trial for its antibiotic caused the death of 11 children and left dozens disabled,Reuters writes. Nigeria's federal government and its northern state of Kano sued Pfizer last year for a total $8.5 billion in damages over Trovan tests during a 1996 meningitis epidemic that killed 12,000 children.
The civil and criminal cases launched by Nigeria's authorities have grown into a tangle of unresolved petitions and counter-claims, dragging from one adjournment to the next, and have included threats to bring current and former Pfizer execs, including former ceo Bill Steere, to Nigeria to testify. Pfizer, by the way, has denied the charges.
"There is a great desire, there is disposition towards settlement," one Pfizer lawyer, Damian Dodo, tells Reuters. "The process is still on. It is going on on parallel lines. There is active engagement by all the parties."
One court, meanwhile, ruled that families of victims could be heard as defendants alongside the government. Pfizer had appealed to have a government report into the clinical trial quashed. Justice Onwuri Chikere said the families had "sufficient interest" to warrant being heard and said the case would continue on September 22, according to Reuters.
Nigerian authorities blame Trovan for 11 deaths and the permanent health problems of dozens of others. Nigeria also says Pfizer did not obtain proper regulatory approval for the trial on 200 children and misled parents. Pfizer argues that it was meningitis that killed the children or damaged their health, while Trovan saved lives and was as effective as the other, established drug used for comparison in the trial.
Talks between the state of Kano and Pfizer on a possible settlement stalled last December following disagreements over liabilities and compensation, but have since resumed, Reuters writes. Court sources tells Reuters that Pfizer proposed at a meeting in Abuja in March to pay $10 million in compensation, rehabilitate the hospital where the Trovan study took place and upgrade Kano's state-owned drug manufacturing company.