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Nigeria court denies Pfizer motion to dismiss drug trial lawsuit

[JURIST] A Nigerian court Tuesday dismissed a request by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer [corporate website] to throw out a $7 billion lawsuit [BBC backgrounder] filed by the Nigerian government over a drug experiment conducted in the 1990s that allegedly killed or disabled children. Pfizer lawyers argued that the case had been improperly filed by government prosecutors. The judge agreed that one amendment, seeking to add 85 new claims to the case, had been brought improperly, but allowed the originally filed 56 claims to move forward. The government's case, which is being heard in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, is distinct from a $2 billion case brought in Kano, the site of the alleged experiment. A related case was dismissed [order, PDF] by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] in 2005.

All of the cases stem from an alleged illegal study performed during a meningitis outbreak in Kano in 1996. Lawyers allege that Pfizer treated 100 affected children with an experimental antibiotic called Trovan [Wikipedia backgrounder], while another 100 children were given lower than recommended doses of an approved antibiotic, Ceftriaxone [Wikipedia backgrounder]. As many as 11 children in the study died, while more now suffer from brain damage, paralysis, and other ailments. Pfizer denies that Trovan or their actions are responsible for the conditions. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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