And Another Thing About Pfizer…

12 Dec

In my last post I mentioned this pharma-giant as an example of one that would prefer to capitalize on its patents rather than participate in a fund that could still make it money but provide low-cost drugs to the poor at the same time.

Now, the Wikileaks info tsunami has exposed an even darker side of the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporation: how it spent tens of millions on lawyers, lobbying and dirty-tricks investigators to avoid paying out claims to the families of Nigerian children who died during a drug trial.

Honestly. Doesn’t Pfizer know ‘The Constant Gardener’ was supposed to be a work of fiction, not an instruction manual?

John Lecarre’s novel told the story of a well-meaning British woman who is killed when she threatens to expose a drug company’s illegal experimentation on sick children in an African country. What Pfizer did was fly in a team of doctors to a sad, dusty place called Kano in southern Nigeria. It was 1996, and a terrible meningitis epidemic was sweeping the region, killing thousands. Doctors Without Borders was stretched thin treating crowds of families and could do nothing to stop the wholly unethical trial of a new oral antibiotic called Trovan on infected children.

According to Jean Hervé Bradol, former president of MSF France, “They were panicking in the hospital, overrun by cases on the verge of dying. The team were shocked that Pfizer continued the so-called scientific work in the middle of hell.”

In fact, Trovan wasn’t even designed for children. Pfizer – the maker of Viagra, Lipitor and Zoloft  — planned to introduce the drug in Europe, only for adults. It was later taken off the market because of indications of liver toxicity.

In 2001, families of the some of the children sought legal help in claiming damages from Pfizer. But as the Wikileaks cables show, the company did everything it could to dig up evidence of corruption against Nigeria’s attorney general to get him to drop the two cases, criminal and civil. Apparently, their machinations worked. Charges were dropped and the state of Kano accepted a meager $75 million pay-out, half of what it was seeking.

Sadly, Pfizer has merely proved once again that big corporations with no ethics but billions of dollars can get away with murder.

One of the comments on The Guardian story suggested a boycott of this egregious company. It certainly sounds tempting. If consumers can decide to buy or leave food products based on their lists of ingredients, wouldn’t it be great if we could see a list of Pfizer’s objectionable activities (one of the 10 worst polluters in the US, a repeat offender in false advertising) when we go to the pharmacy?

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2 Responses to “And Another Thing About Pfizer…”

  1. eden baylee December 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Hi Augusta,
    Though we may not be able to see a list of all the atrocious activities of Pfizer, we can at least educate ourselves and buy drugs from an alternate company—if there is one.

    I, for one, will do my part by subscribing to your blog to learn more. I encourage others to do the same.

    Eden

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. From Underdogs to Watch Dogs « Global Kiosk - June 25, 2012

    […] to decide how we want to vote, or whether we want to avoid patronizing unethical companies (see Pfizer,  Bedford Biofuels, Suncor, Cargill, etc ), or even to campaign for change.  It is also true that […]

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