August 12, 2011 – Protest as Pfizer commence compensation payment to Trovan test victims
Dozens of people suspected to be victims of the 1996 Pfizer Trovan test in Kano on Thursday staged a peaceful demonstration at the venue where officials of the Meningitis Trust Fund presented compensation cheques to relatives of four of the certified claimants.
The protesters, who chanted anti-Pfizer slogans, took over the entrance of the venue located at the highbrow area of the city. They accused the international pharmaceutical giant of “showing less commitment and sincerity” to honour the out-of-court settlement brokered between it and the Kano State government last year.
The protesters also expressed disappointment over what they described as the “slow pace of procedures” leading to the historical compensation, stressing that as it stands now “it’s evidently clear most of us might not live to enjoy our legitimate right”.
The protest by Trovan victims yesterday came on the heels of a total boycott of the event by the Association of Trovan Victims Association (TVA) headed by Mustapha Garba Maisikeli.
A member of the association, who pleaded anonymity, told NEXT that their decision to not participate in the process was because of the alleged insincerity of Pfizer.
“These people are not sincere, because they went on air to announce that everybody should come and participate in the DNA, just to discredit us,” he said. “But as God would have it, out of the 355 people that turned out only eight passed the DNA test, making the number 200 plus our 192 members and that is what Pfizer admitted in the high court.
“But up to this moment, Pfizer has refused to disclose to us the DNA result after 16 weeks. Initially, they promised that the result would be released within 5 to 7 weeks. And we have it on good authority that Borde Laboratories in New York that is handling the DNA for Pfizer released the result to Pfizer seven weeks ago. You can see that something is wrong and that is why we are not participating.” Officials of the Meningitis Trust Fund, headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, Bashir Wali, refused to be drawn into the protest story as the trust was still basking in the euphoria of successfully issuing out a cheque of $175,000 each to four certified claimants.
Although the four victims, three males and a female, are long dead, their compensation was collected by their parents.
Pfizer, in a statement issued by its office in New York, expressed satisfaction with the progress towards resolving the claims.
“We are pleased that these four individuals, the first group of qualified claimants of the Healthcare/Meningitis Trust Fund, have received compensation,” the statement said. “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.
“We congratulate the Board on reaching another milestone in the implementation of the settlement agreement reached by Kano State and Pfizer. We thank them for their commitment and dedication to seeing this process through in the most timely and transparent way possible.” 234next