Pfizer is at the centre of new Wikileaks revelations based on a leaked US embassy cable.
The Guardian reports that Pfizer hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis.
According to the report, Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996.
Last year, the company came to a tentative settlement with the Kano state government which was to cost it $75m. But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases brought by the Nigerian federal government.
The cable reports a meeting between Pfizer’s country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and US officials at the Abuja embassy on 9 April 2009.
It states: “According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal attorney general Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. He said Pfizer’s investigators were passing this information to local media.”
You can read the cables here for yourself.
Meanwhile, the editor of The Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, has tweeted: “Pfizer’s efforts to undermine Nigeria’s legal due process over Trovan in 2009 reveal extraordinary corruption at the heart of a drug giant.”
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In another health-related revelation from Wikileaks, one of the leaks reveals the US Government’s catalogue of foreign vaccine facilities which could be vulnerable to a terrorist attack.