Pfizer Trovan Case: Doctor Sues Over Link to Nigerian Attorney General Who Allegedly Wants Slice of Settlement

Last Updated Dec 30, 2008 10:46 AM EST

A Texas doctor helping the Nigerian government in its claim against Pfizer in the Trovan drug testing case has sued an African investigative reporting website, SaharaReporters, for $25 million, according to Black Star News. SaharaReporters had written that the doctor was a cousin of Nigeria's attorney general and that the attorney general threatened to scuttle any settlement in the Trovan case unless he received a fee "in the millions of dollars" from Pfizer. The doctor denies the allegations.

The Nigerian government sued Pfizer for $7 billion after testing for Trovan, a meningitis vaccine, left nearly a dozen children dead. (See link to a Trovan backgrounder in this BNET story.)

Assisting the Nigerian government in its suit was Dr. Paul Botwev Orhii of Texas, according to BSN:

Dr. Orhii, it would be remembered, is the Texas doctor who, last December, wrote to President Yar'Adua volunteering to be an expert witness against Pfizer. On January 21, in what must rank as the federal government's quickest hiring in 48 years, [Attorney-General Michael] Aondoakaa announced his engagement in a lavish letter which was curiously published in the press. Everyone knows that in the real world, the Nigerian government does not work that quickly, if it works at all.Orhii, in a suit filed in federal court in Texas's Southern District, says he is not a cousin of the attorney general and that there is no sheme for the attorney general to collect $10 million from the settlement. "Such false statements are libel, per se," Orhii's suit states. You can download a copy of the suit here.

Complicating matters further are reports detailing alleged fraud among Nigerians hoping to get a piece of the Pfizer settlement. Nigeria and Pfizer had been leaning toward a deal of between $10 million and $650 million earlier this year. The settlement would cover about 200 children who had been given the vaccine in tests.

Nigerian newspapers then alleged that local politicians were assembling deformed children pretending to be Trovan victims, in order to get a slice of the as-yet-unbaked pie. As you can see here and here, rampant speculation and rumor has replaced reliable information coming out of Nigeria on the current state of talks.

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