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WikiLeaks and a Failed Secrecy Bid Push Pfizer to Settle Fatal Drug Test Case

Pfizer (PFE)'s settlement of the Trovan case -- in which it was accused of unethically testing a meningitis drug on African children in 1996 without their consent -- appears to have been triggered, in part, by WikiLeaks and Pfizer's failed attempt to keep secret allegations it bribed Nigerian officials. Eleven children died in the experiment. The settlement, for an undisclosed sum, came after three linked events:

The combination of the three events appears to have generated enough pressure on both sides to settle the case. Walterspiel told BNET that few people knew of his 2007 letter until the WikiLeaks cables revealed that Pfizer had allegedly paid investigators in Nigeria to find "corruption ties" to the officials it was litigating against:
The letter -- a discoverable document -- was never revealed by Pfizer to any of the plaintiffs. It was in the hands of Pfizer CEO, Pfizer Board members and Pfizer employees in Nigeria. In the wake of Wikileaks in December, it was sent anonymously (I assume by a Nigerian Pfizer employee in distress) to the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung and possible other Newspapers, that published on its contents on 12-24-2011 [under the headline] "When Children Die". Once herewith in the public domain, it was also sent to Judge Pauley who elected to make it public.
Walterspiel's allegations had previously been rejected by the judge in 2005 after Pfizer produced a witness to deny them (see pages 10 and 29 of this ruling). Walterspiel's earlier declaration in the case was largely ignored by the media because it was only filed on paper with the court, and not on the court's online docket. Walterspiel was fired the day after he wrote his letter.


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