United States-based pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has paid $175,000 to each of the four families of victims of its drug trial in Kano 15 years ago.
The firm had in 1996 conducted a controversial clinical trial that claimed the lives of 11 children and dozens were left disabled in the ancient city after it gave them the experimental anti-meningitis drug, Trovan.
The four beneficiaries - Rabiu Isa, Ado Usaini, Hauwa Umar and Usman Garba - received a cheque of $175,000 each through their next-of-kin as their compensation, having been duly certified by the DNA test conducted by the Biode Laboratory Inc.
The cheques were dispensed by representatives of the company and Kano State Meningitis Health-Care Trust Fund.
Chairman of the Fund, Justice Abubakar Wali, said Thursday during the ceremony that the board received forms from 668 claimants.
He said, of the number, 548 forms were completed and returned to the secretariat by the respective claimants.
According to Wali, the board conducted DNA tests on 353 claimants during the first stage of the exercise and had so far received eight positive results. “Out of these eight results, four have died as a result of their participation in the clinical trial and each was entitled to receive the maximum of $175,000 as full and final settlement of compensation for loss of life, pains and suffering to be paid to their next of kin,” Justice Wali said.
He also said the other four victims belonged to what he called study participants that are still alive.
He further said the board had concluded the required medical tests on them and had ascertained the percentage of their medical disabilities, pains and suffering.
“Those who passed the DNA test conducted to authenticate the genuine victims of the Trovan test from the 200 allegedly injected with the drug are recommended to Pfizer for compensation,” he added.
The exercise was carried out by Pfizer/Kano State Health-Care Meningitis Trust Fund.
THISDAY recalled that the compensation is the high point of the agreement reached in 2009 between Pfizer and the Kano State Government.
Biode Laboratory Inc. conducted a second DNA test on 193 claimants after an out-of-court settlement was reached between the donors and members of the Trovan Victims Forum (TVF) and the result of the second DNA test, according to Wali, was still being awaited.
For years, Pfizer maintained that meningitis - not the drug - caused the deaths and disabilities.
But after a lengthy and expensive litigation process, it reached a settlement with the Kano State Government.
Pfizer also agreed to sponsor health projects in Kano as well as creating a fund of $35 million to compensate those affected.
It also said it was pleased that the four had been compensated.
"This is the first step in a multi-phase review process by which the independent board of trustees that manages the fund will deliver payment to all other qualified claimants," the company said in a statement.
"We thank them for their commitment and dedication to seeing this process through in the most timely and transparent way possible” it added.