The Nigerian polio vaccine problems apparently aren't exclusively UNICEF's problem, but it seems American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer used an
experimental antibiotic that has left several children ill.
From today's Mail & Guardian online
Isa Mohammed distrusts doctors, especially white foreign ones. His suspicions, he says, stem from a 1996 drug study by American pharmaceutical giant
Pfizer in which his daughter, now partially disabled, took part.
More than 30 Nigerian families are suing New York-based Pfizer, accusing it in a US court of failing to adequately inform them of the risks to their
children if they took part in the drug study.
The company repeatedly has rejected allegations of wrongdoing in its study, which tested an experimental antibiotic on children suffering from
meningitis. Pfizer says its doctors did a professional and ethical job, saving lives during the meningitis epidemic among the poor in Nigeria's
northern city of Kano.
Pfizer treated 100 meningitis-infected children with an experimental antibiotic, Trovan. Another 100 children, control patients in the study, received
an approved antibiotic, ceftriaxone -- but the dose was lower than recommended, the families' lawyers claim.
Up to 11 children in the study died, while others suffered physical disabilities and brain damage.
Mohammed says Nigerian health investigators told him about the experiment only years afterward, long after Hafsat, now 11, suffered meningitis-related
disabilities. She limps and is struggling to learn to read.
Islamic leaders in Kano have seized on the controversy as evidence of a US-led conspiracy. Since October, rumours that polio vaccines spread Aids or
infertility spurred Kano and another heavily Muslim state, Zamfara, to boycott a long-term campaign to vaccinate millions.
Zainab Abdullahi says her two children took part in the Pfizer test and now have serious meningitis-related disabilities. She blames Pfizer but
hasn't lost faith in Western medicine.