my dears, thank you for all your well wishes and posts while i was on hiatus. they were highly, highly appreciated. I had to hold myself back from posting on other's blogs during that time, lest i find myself spending hours online that should have gone towards schoolwork. i will be replying all of your posts within the next 24 hours or so. also, watch out for some of my comments on your blogs as well, especially the "Brutish Airways" debacle (I have long since boycotted BA and wondered why it took the rest of y'all so long to do the same too...I say that with love and respect...welcome to the light).
speaking of scandals, does anyone know what came out of the Pfizer meningitis clinical trials of 1996 - I know very very old...but I was discussing it with someone the other day and could not find updates on what happened so far. For a brief recap....
In 1996, northern Nigerian witnessed an unprecedented meningitis outbreak in which 12-15,000 people died within a span of six months. During this time, Pfizer scouted for potential young participants for a clinical trial of the antibiotic Trovan, which, at the time, was largely untested for use in children. In a field hospital in Kano, 200 children were selected for this trial and half were administered Trovan, while the other half were given a low dose of another antibiotic. As a result of the trial, several children died or were rendered permanently disabled, claims the Nigerian government.
The problems: I think in terms of ethical research case studies, this is probably the worse I've encountered in recent history. Here's why:
- The trial was performed at at time when Doctors Without Borders, who, true to their mission, sought to alleviate the epidemic by providing free and effective antiobiotics at the same field hospital. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that Pfizer took advantage of this in that families could have consented to signing their children up for the Pfizer trials thinking that the Pfizer and Doctors Without Borders were one in the same.
- Pfizer claimed that the clinical trial was approved by the Nigerian government. However the letter of approval written by some Nigerian ethics committee was a fake, written more than a year after the trial had ended. In fact the letterhead used was created months after the trial.
- No documents detailing if and how consent was obtained by parents of participants exist. Pfizer maintains that nurses on the ground obtained verbal consent from parents, though parents who are suing Pfizer deny this claim.
- Patients whose condition worsened after use of the experimental drug were denied standard therapy. A big boo-boo, to say the least.
- In 2006, the Nigerian government released the results of a panel meant to look into the Pfizer trial and reports found that Pfizer not only violated Nigerian law, but also flouted the International Declaration of Helsinki, and mandates espoused by the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. The best part is that the results of this Nigerian investigation is that the report had been suppressed for five years. It is only as of recent that anyone has come to know of the findings of this report.
Google Pfizer and Nigeria and I am sure you will find more details, I have only scratched the surface. But to give an update, Trovan has since been banned in the United States and Europe because of its life-threatening side effects. And as many of you know, as a result of the Pfizer trials, the once-eradicated polio has resurged in northern Nigeria and has spread other parts of West Africa. Muslim clerics in northern Nigeria used the Pfizer trials to bolster their arguments that polio vaccines were part of a plot to extinguish the Muslim population.
Recently, in 2005, the suit against Pfizer went to court in the United States but was dismissed on the grounds that the US did not have jurisdiction over this case. And in January of this year, a federal high court in Abuja issued a warrant for the arrest of eight former directors of Pfizer Nigeria.
However, beyond this, I have no idea what has happened in regards to this case. If someone can please shed light on what is currently being done to adequately bring justice, please let me know. But this issue brings up several potential points of discussion. One, corruption is not solely a Nigerian commodity. It seems as if in this case, corruption was initiated by the multinational corporation, Pfizer. The former NAFDAC director claims that this trial was conducted without the consent of the Nigerian government. However, we must acknowledge that the Nigerian environment, in fact the developing world environment allows for such tragedies to happen. What if anything can be done to prevent such in the future? (I apologize for the open-endedness of this post, but I have to reorient myself back to the blogosphere once again). By the way guerreiranigeriana, a post on my take on the short-term medical mission's phenomenon and its abuses is forthcoming.
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