A Nigerian court has ordered the arrest of three senior officials of the drug company Pfizer. The warrants were issued after the three failed to appear in court over a controversial drug test conducted a decade ago.
Both the federal government in Nigeria, and the northern state of Kano are suing Pfizer over the clinical trial of antibiotic Trovan, which took place in Kano during a meningitis epidemic in 1996. Nigerian officials charge that 11 children died after taking the drug and numerous others were left permanently impaired. Kano is seeking two billion dollars in damages â€“ the federal suit puts compensation at almost seven billion.
Pfizer has denied that the children were harmed by the drug, and says all necessary approvals were obtained before the trial. During a hearing in Kano Monday, the judge complained that individual defendants from the company should have been present, and he has issued warrants for their arrest â€“ the three include the head of Pfizer in Nigeria. Pfizer has argued a separate process in a Lagos court that the defendants were not properly served criminal summons and were not obliged to appear in court.