Pfizer Trovan Case Had 200 Victims But 600 Claim Compensation

Last Updated Jan 27, 2010 11:22 AM EST

About 600 people have filed forms demanding compensation from Pfizer (PFE) following the company's Trovan meningitis trials in Nigeria, even though only 200 people were actually part of the test.

Pfizer has agreed to pay about $35 million of a $75 million settlement to the children affected by the trial, which took place in 1996. Eleven children died during Pfizer's trials of the drug and Trovan was later banned in the U.S. and Europe. The events may have inspired the book and movie, The Constant Gardener. Getting the compensation to the victims has been a comedy of errors. In November, Pfizer demanded the DNA of claimants after it emerged that Nigerian officials had lost their list of victims. Various other Nigerian "officials" have been maneuvering for a slice of the payout.

Losing the list might turn out not to be a problem, however, as Pfizer kept its copy of the list along with their photos and other medical records, according to The Punch:

Pfizer's lawyer, Mr. Anthony Idigbe (SAN), said the company was in possession of files and documents containing medical records and photographs of those who took part in the test.
The company said that "the records will be very helpful. The tests by doctors to determine the real patients will be at no cost to those who have come to make claims."
Of the $75 million settlement, about $40 million has been set aside for legal expenses and use by various Nigerian government officials. Victims are set to get about $175,000 per person.

And finally: Pfizer is belatedly getting out the word that Trovan wasn't all that bad. Pfizer spokesperson Emeka Ozumba told AllAfrica.com:

"The clinical study involved 200 patients with severe cases of cerebral-spinal meningitis (CSM), 100 of who were treated with Ceftriaxone, the gold standard drug in use; while others took the intravenous Trovan," Ozumba added.
"Of these, Ceftriaxone recorded six fatalities while Trovan had five, making it a total of 11 deaths."