Nigeria upgrades its charges against drug maker Pfizer

Publié le par hort


Nigeria Files New Pfizer Suit Fraud Added To Allegations Against U.S. Drug Maker

Associated Press
July 21, 2007

ABUJA, Nigeria - Government lawyers filed a new $7 billion civil lawsuit Friday against Pfizer Inc., adding a more serious fraud charge to their allegations that the U.S. drug maker did not properly obtain consent from families while testing an experimental drug on their children.

The government has accused Pfizer of taking advantage of a 1996 meningitis epidemic to test an experimental drug without authorization or the full understanding of the families involved - allegedly contributing to the deaths of some of the children and sickening others. Pfizer denies wrongdoing.

Government lawyer Babatunde Irukera said lawyers recently discovered material that suggested Pfizer committed fraud by bypassing company rules on obtaining consent from families. Based on that, they withdrew their original suit Friday and hours later iled a new one.

He said the new suit also clarifies some of the overnment's original arguments.

"Some of the materials we needed to establish that fizer was fraudulent only came out after we filed the suit," he said. Irukera said the earlier suit only levied a softer charge of "fraudulent representation."

The civil case is in addition to a federal criminal case and separate from civil and criminal cases launched at the state level in the northern state of Kano. All the cases stem from the same mid-1990s drug study in Kano's main city, also called Kano.

HIV medics released to Bulgaria
Six Bulgarian medics who were serving life sentences in Libya have arrived in Bulgaria following their release, ending their eight-year incarceration. They were immediately pardoned by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov. The five nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor were convicted of deliberately infecting Libyan children with HIV - charges they have always denied.
An EU official told the BBC the release had been made possible by a deal struck in Tripoli on improving Libya-EU ties. It comes after years of efforts by the European Commission, with the EU's external affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, making numerous trips to Libya, meeting the prisoners and working to improve the conditions for hundreds of children with HIV/Aids.
Ferrero-Waldner and Cecilia Sarkozy, the wife of France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, accompanied the Bulgarians home. On their arrival aboard a French government plane at Sofia airport the medics were greeted on the tarmac by tearful relatives and well-wishers. Ms Ferrero-Waldner described their release as "a humanitarian decision", adding that it marked "a new page in the history of relations between the EU and Libya".
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would visit Libya on Wednesday to help the country "rejoin the international community". At a news conference in Paris, he said no money had exchanged hands to secure the release of the medics. "Neither Europe nor France has made the smallest financial contribution to Libya," he said.
Archaeological help
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the European Union could now begin to normalise trade and political ties with Libya. According to EU officials the key to the agreement has been a memorandum signed in Tripoli by Ms Ferrero-Waldner, which would lead to the full normalisation of EU relations with Libya. The BBC's Oana Lungescu says it includes a pledge to open the European market to Libyan farm and fishery produce, technical assistance for the restoration of archaeological monuments and EU grants for Libyan students. It also included measures to improve the medical care of the children infected with HIV/Aids in Libya, the French presidential palace said.
Libya said it had ordered the release of the medical workers after it was satisfied that the conditions for extradition had been met. "The matter has been settled. We received guarantees for the normalisation of relations with European countries and for a partnership agreement with the EU," a Libyan official told the AFP news agency. Earlier, Mr Sarkozy and Mr Barroso welcomed the agreement, paying tribute to Ms Ferrero-Waldner and the mediation of the emir of Qatar.
Last week, the six had death sentences commuted to life in prison by Libya's top legal body. The High Judicial Council ruling came after the families of the 438 children agreed a compensation deal reportedly worth $1m (£500,000) per child.
Transfer deal
Bulgaria had officially asked Libya to repatriate the medics so they could serve out their sentences in Bulgaria. Bulgaria's President Parvanov said he was satisfied with their release. "The dramatic case with the sentenced innocent Bulgarian citizens is at its end. We are still sympathetic with the other tragedy - the one of the infected Libyan children and their families," he said. The Palestinian doctor was granted Bulgarian citizenship last month to allow him to benefit from any transfer deal.
The medics were convicted of deliberately injecting 438 children with HIV-tainted blood. Fifty-six children have since died. The six, who have been in prison since 1999, say they were tortured to confess. Foreign experts say the infections started before the medics arrived at the hospital, and are more likely to have been a result of poor hygiene.
Bulgaria, its allies in the European Union, and the United States say Libya has used the case to deflect criticism from its run-down health service.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Straight talk from Hort 
I am happy to see that Nigeria has filed new charges (much heavier) against Pfifer but the question this raises is ‘how much compensation will they eventually receive?’ Kaddafi of Lybia received millions (some say almost as much as the amount he paid for the Lockerbie disaster) for the aids infection accusation, (a false claim, I agree,) but it shows that he knows how to negotiate a win-win situation, something that African governments have been unable to do. (The South African debacle at the end of apartheid comes to mind). If Nigeria were to negotiate a win-win situation in this case, it would send a strong signal to other African governments and to us in the diaspora that change is on the way in Africa. For too long, because of our self hatred we have placed no value on African lives, so others haven’t either. That is why Western pharmaceutical companies have had a field day in abusing African people, from the Cameroun to South Africa. All African countries need to put more stringent rules in place to protect their citizens and  like Kaddafi, throw the perpetrators in jail, or hang them when they do not comply. It is time to put a stop to this callous way of treating our people especially since Africa owns the most sought after resources on this planet. Africa must begin using its resources to ensure that it achieves a win-win situation in all its negotiations. There  is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't.

Publié dans contemporary africa

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