The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Pfizer to block a spate of lawsuits brought about by Nigerian families over the drug giant’s testing of an antibiotic on children during a meningitis outbreak.
The families claim that the drug giant tested Trovan on children during the outbreak in the mid-1990s without acquiring the informed consent of either the parent or child.
They say that Pfizer breached international law against voluntary medical experimentation during the two-week test.
While the lawsuits brought about by the families claim that 11 children died and many others were left brain damaged, blind or paralysed following the experiment, Pfizer claims that the survival rate during the outbreak of those that took Trovan outweighed the number of deaths.
Pfizer had appealed a court ruling allowing the lawsuits to go ahead in US courts under an 18th century law known as the Alien Tort Statute, but their appeal was rejected after justices in New York said the statute, which allows foreign nationals to sue in US courts over international law violations, still stands.
The drug manufacturer denies the allegations and said it was disappointed at the decision to allow the lawsuits to continue.
Copyright Press Association 2010