The internet system at the Savannah libraries has been down since Friday. Today we get back online and I'm trolling my newsletters to find out what I missed over the weekend and I run into a little piece in the WaPo that tells me if the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow, they do occasionally at least rip the right perp on behalf of its victims.
Thirteen years ago, Pfizer decided it wanted to test a drug that was supposed to cure meningitis. The Clinton FDA, however, wouldn't approve the trials because they didn't meet govt standards (those icky, awful regulations that conservatives have been running against for a quarter century and spent the entire Bush Admin dismantling). Pfizer knew perfectly well from preliminary tests that if it tried to meet those govt standards the drug would fail since there were significant problems with it.
It could have dropped the drug. It could have continued research and tried to find solutions for the problems. It was a dangerous drug but its potential for massive profits was great and Pfizer didn't want to lose time raking in the moolah so it did neither of those things.
Just how far is Big Pharma prepared to go to squeeze money from dangerous drugs? This far: they "arranged" for trials in Nigeria, used kids illegally, killing some of them, faked the data, and then sold the drug on the world market until a number of deaths forced several govts to outlaw it.
Nigeria took them to court, and on Saturday announced that an agreement was "close".
Pfizer has reached a broad agreement to pay millions of dollars to Nigeria's Kano state to settle a criminal case alleging that the drug company illegally tested an experimental drug on gravely ill children during a 1996 meningitis epidemic.
The details remain private, but sources close to the negotiations said the total payments -- including those to the children, their families, the government and the government's attorneys -- would be about $75 million under the current settlement terms. Other details, including how the money will be distributed, are to be worked out within weeks.
Nigerian authorities say Pfizer's infamous trial of the antibiotic Trovan killed 11 children and disabled scores more. The world's largest drug company says the deaths and injuries were the result of meningitis.
Which is sort of an admission that the drug didn't work, I guess, despite the trials that said it did. 'Course, the trials weren't exactly, um, unbent.
[T]he [Nigerian] trial did not conform to U.S. patient-protection standards and that the oral form of the drug used in the trial had not been previously tested in children. Pfizer had no signed consent forms for the children...and the company relied on a falsified ethics approval letter. Researchers also gave children substandard doses of a comparison antibiotic...
Trovan was never approved for use by American children. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for adults in 1998 but later severely restricted its use after reports of liver failure. The European Union banned the drug in 1999.
It's important to remember that the games Pfizer played to convince the gullible that its drug a) worked and b) wouldn't kill them when neither of those things were true are the standard games played both then and now by all of Big Pharma, which can't be trusted to produce aspirin without lacing it with something it then can use as an excuse to raise the price. And they patently don't much care if a few people die from whatever that substance is as long as the company makes money.
This is NOT the exception. It's the rule.
This time they'll pay...something. They need to pay every time or more people are going to die. It's that simple. How do I know? Because this is what Pfizer wants in return for its payout:
An attorney for the Nigerian government...said a sticking point in recent negotiations was Pfizer's request that authorities absolve the company of wrongdoing.
"Yes, I put the gun in my pocket, walked into the 7-11 and killed 11 kids and a couple dozen adults but, hey, I'm rich. Here's a bunch of money and it's all yours if you don't prosecute and you tell everybody I didn't do anything wrong. It was all, hmm, let's see.... Let's say they all died of lead poisoning. Hey, it's true, right?"
Screw the agreement. Take their asses to court. Here's the jury:
[Reports of the trials] sparked street demonstrations and demands for reform in Nigeria.
Yeah. That's the ticket.