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Pfizer reaches settlement with Nigeria state in drug testing lawsuit

[JURIST] Drug maker Pfizer [corporate website] reached a settlement Friday with the Nigerian state of Kano in a lawsuit over allegedly illegal clinical trials the company conducted in Nigeria in 1996. The national government and the state of Kano filed separate lawsuits [BBC backgrounder] against Pfizer in 2007, accusing the company of administering meningitis medication to 200 Nigerian children, including 100 with the then-experimental antibiotic Trovan [FDA backgrounder], without the authorization of the Nigerian government or the consent of the patients' guardians. They also alleged that the testing killed 11 children and incapacitated 181 others, demanding a total of $8.5 billion in damages. Pfizer has consistently denied the allegations [statement of defense, PDF], and has said that the company's actions were both ethical and beneficial [press release]. Under the agreement, Pfizer is expected to pay $75 million [AFP report] in compensation. The details of the settlement have not yet been finalized [Reuters report], but the Nigerian federal government is expected to withdraw its case once they have been.

In October, Pfizer expressed hope [JURIST report] that a settlement could be reached after ongoing negotiations [JURIST report] in the case. In 2007, a Nigerian court rejected a request by Pfizer [JURIST report] to dismiss the Nigerian government's lawsuit on technical grounds. Also last year, criminal court proceedings against Pfizer were suspended [JURIST report] at the request of prosecutors, who asked for more time to prepare for trial.

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