The Nigerian prosecutor in multi-billion dollar lawsuits against Pfizer says reaching an out-of-court settlement depends on Pfizer's acceptance of the government's final terms to end charges against the U.S. pharmaceutical giant.
According to the lawyer representing Nigeria, Babatunde Irukera, some progress has been achieved in settlement talks with Pfizer. But he denied reports that an agreement has been reached.
"There is a newspaper publication today that announces a settlement and even states amounts of money to be given to who and all that and Kano's state's position is that this is not the case," said Irukera. "We will not deny there has been very, very serious discussions and that there is a possibility of a resolution. But to say that one has been reached is completely untrue."
The federal government and the northern state of Kano are suing Pfizer for a combined $8.5 billion and pressing criminal charges over the 1996 testing of the drug Trovan on Nigerian children in Kano during a meningitis outbreak.
Eleven children are alleged to have died after taking Trovan, which is alleged to have caused deformities such as blindness, deafness, brain damage and paralysis in 189 others.
The Nigerian government also alleges that Pfizer failed to obtain all the required approvals for the trial and did not get proper consent of the patients' families.
Pfizer rejects all the charges. It says Trovan saved lives and the alleged victims were affected by meningitis, not the drug. The drug manufacturing giant says the trial was carried out with the consent of the Nigerian government.
Nigeria and Pfizer representatives have been negotiating an out-of-court settlement since last year. Pfizer officials say a settlement process was ongoing and the company is keen to stay at the negotiating table until an agreement was reached. The case against Pfizer in Kano has been adjourned until early April to allow for a deal.
In January, a New York-based court ruled that Nigerian families can sue Pfizer in U.S. courts, overturning rulings by a lower court.