Pfizer to Pay $75 Million Fine in “Constant Gardener” Case

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

One of the most challenging class action cases ever pursued against a pharmaceutical company has resulted in a $75 million settlement by Pfizer, which was accused of illegally testing a drug on African children. During a meningitis epidemic in Nigeria in 1996, Pfizer gave the antibiotic Trovan to children, killing 11 and disabling many more, according to Nigerian authorities, who claimed the drug manufacturer was using the country as a guinea pig for the new therapy. Pfizer officials insisted the deaths and injuries were the result of meningitis, but have agreed nonetheless to settle the case out of court. A final agreement is still to be reached, according to an attorney for the Nigerian government, who said Pfizer is insisting that the country absolve the company of wrongdoing.

Trovan was never approved for use by American children, and while the Food and Drug Administration approved it for adults in 1998, the regulatory agency later restricted its use after reports of liver failure in patients. The European Union banned the drug in 1999.
Details of the case became the inspiration for John Le Carre’s novel, The Constant Gardener, which was later made into a film starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz.


Leave a comment