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Pfizer keen to settle Nigeria drug trial lawsuits

October 27 2008 at 6:46 PM
Anonymous 

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssHealthcareNews/idUSLR43285320081027?sp=true

 

KANO, Nigeria, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Monday it hoped to reach an out-of-court settlement with Nigeria over a 1996 drug trial that the government says caused the death of 11 children and left dozens disabled.

Nigeria's federal government and its northern state of Kano sued Pfizer last year for a total of $8.5 billion in damages over the testing of the antibiotic Trovan in Kano during a 1996 meningitis epidemic that killed 12,000 children.

The New York-based drugmaker denies all charges and argues that meningitis, not Trovan, killed the children or damaged their health. It says Trovan saved lives and was as effective as a more established drug used for comparison in the study.

The civil and criminal cases launched by authorities more than a year ago have grown into a tangle of unresolved petitions and side issues, dragging from one adjournment to the next. No witness has been heard and no substantive issue tackled.

Talks between the Nigerian authorities and Pfizer on a possible settlement have been slowed by disagreements over liabilities and compensation.

"The reason for the lack of progress in these settlement talks is the excessive and unsubstantiated claims put forth by the private lawyers hired by the governments," Pfizer said in a statement.

Prosecution lawyers have failed to provide evidence to support their "excessive monetary claims" despite repeated demands by Pfizer, it said.

"Nevertheless, Pfizer continues to be interested in an amicable resolution of these cases. The company is prepared to stay at the settlement table to reach an agreement," the firm said.

Pfizer said it has proposed to set up a fund for participants in the study, underwrite projects to improve and expand healthcare in Nigeria, and provide assistance to cover legitimate legal expenses incurred by the government.

Court sources said in March Pfizer had proposed to pay $10 million in compensation, rehabilitate the hospital where the Trovan study took place, and upgrade Kano's state-owned drug manufacturing company.

But Kano state's lead attorney Aliyu Umar said in April the government wanted "a better package for the victims".

A Kano state High Court hearing the lawsuits adjourned the civil case on Monday to Nov. 27 and the criminal one to Nov. 28.

Speaking to reporters after Monday's court sitting, Pfizer's lead counsel Anthony Idigbe said the adjournment provided the disputing parties an opportunity to close ranks and reach an amicable agreement.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/ )

(Writing by Tume Ahemba; Editing by Randy Fabi and Sue Thomas)

 


 
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Niamh

A Study in Hollow Brand Values

October 28 2008, 11:50 AM 

A Study in Hollow Brand Values

 

http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2008/10/a-study-in-hollow-brand-values.html

One would expect that an annual marketing budget of more than a billion dollars would buy you a very well-positioned corporate brand. But that has not been the case for Pfizer.

This decade, the world's biggest pharmaceutical corporation launched some very successful drugs, including Lipitor and Viagra. But when it comes to its own corporate brand Pfizer is, like many multinationals, a mess of generic and insipid brand values.

All the usual suspects are there: integrity, innovation, customer focus, respect for people, community, teamwork, performance, leadership and, of course, quality. It is a roll-call of the generic from a corporation that sees branding as a superficial patina and not the fundamental core of its business.

Does it matter? With profits on average in the billions does it even need brand values at the core of its business?

We might get a different perspective from the people of Kano in Nigeria.

In the mid-nineties, with a meningitis epidemic raging in the region, a team of Pfizer researchers travelled to the city in what the company claims was a philanthropic mission. The team arrived with large quantities of Trovan, an experimental and, at that time unapproved, drug.

The Pfizer team recruited a Nigerian doctor to act as its leader, who has since claimed that he was little more than a front man. They then administered Trovan in oral form to 100 children selected from meningitis sufferers admitted to a Kano field hospital.

The Pfizer team also administered cef-triaxone, a registered drug for meningitis, in lower-than-recommended doses to another 100 children also suffering from the illness.

Pfizer said that it had received the verbal approval of the families of the patients, although in filing a lawsuit, the families have claimed that the company did not obtain their consent.

Meanwhile, those children admitted to the hospital who were not selected by the Pfizer team were treated with the correct dosages of the antibiotic chloramphenicol, an internationally accepted treatment for bacterial meningitis, by a team from Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Once the Pfizer team had ended its mission, it returned to the US, though the epidemic continued.

Of the 200 children involved in the trial, 11 died - although there is no evidence to suggest the drug played any part - and many others were afflicted with serious medical conditions, despite surviving.

After and since the affair came to light Pfizer has rejected any wrong-doing, claiming it is 'proud of the way the study was conducted'. A Nigerian commission, however, has concluded that the episode was a 'clear case of exploitation of the ignorant'.

Where are brand values when you need them? Respect for people does not seem to stretch to gravely ill African children. Community, I would suggest, does not apply to the 30 families from Kano now trying to sue Pfizer. Integrity did not apparently preclude the drugs company from using a forged ethics document as evidence that the Trovan trial was legitimate, something to which it has since admitted.

When an organisation takes branding seriously, it goes beyond the superficial and instils in its products, its people and its operations the values that define it.

There are companies, such as BP and Nike, that take their brand values very seriously and, as a result, are able to make money and make the world a better place at the same time.

There are also companies such as Pfizer that see brand values as a page on a corporate website and which, as a result, operate with an inherent imbalance between what makes them money and what makes them human.

30 SECONDS ON ... PFIZER

- Pfizer was founded in 1849 in Brooklyn, New York, by two Germans, Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart.

- It employs 122,000 people worldwide in 60 countries and sells its products in more than 150 countries.

- In 2002, Pfizer merged with rival Pharmacia, making it the world's biggest pharmaceutical company.

- Pfizer's products include erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, children's painkiller Calpol and oral-health brand Listerine.

- Pfizer has faced various lawsuits over the years. In 2004, it announced it was negotiating a settlement deal with victims of asbestos inhalation resulting from the use of insulation products sold by Quigley, a division it acquired in 1968. Pfizer said it would pay $430m to 80% of plaintiffs, with a further $535m to be paid into a settlement trust to compensate the remaining 20% and future claimants.


 
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Niamh

so you compare TROVAN with lower than recomended CEF-TRIAXONE

October 28 2008, 11:53 AM 

The Pfizer team recruited a Nigerian doctor to act as its leader, who has since claimed that he was little more than a front man. They then administered Trovan in oral form to 100 children selected from meningitis sufferers admitted to a Kano field hospital.

The Pfizer team also administered cef-triaxone, a registered drug for meningitis, in lower-than-recommended doses to another 100 children also suffering from the illness.


 
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