Revolution #257, January 29, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
"It's not personal," Godfather Michael Corleone explained. "It's just business."
January 16, 2012. A World to Win News Service. You might think that imperialist capital has a special hatred for Africans in general and Nigerians in particular, but that's not necessarily the case. They value Nigerian lives as nothing just because they can.
Last August the Pfizer pharmaceutical company admitted responsibility for the deaths of four children in a clinical trial of an experimental meningitis drug in the northern Nigerian state of Kano [in 1996]. Like Shell in the case of its complicity in the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Pfizer settled out of court to avoid a trial. Eleven children died, five who took the Pfizer product Trovan and six given another product (the families contended that Pfizer deliberately gave those children a low dose of the medication to make Pfizer's look better by comparison). Others suffered blindness, deafness and brain damage.
Having "passed" these clinical trials, Trovan turned out to be a big money maker for Pfizer on the international market, but was later withdrawn in Europe and restricted in America because of cases of fatal liver damage.
A 2009 secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks last year revealed that Pfizer had hired private investigators to blackmail the Nigerian Attorney General and get him to drop the lawsuit. The Kano state government brokered an out of court agreement in which Pfizer turned over 35 million dollars for the authorities to use to compensate those families who could supply DNA evidence that they were related to children who died during the trials. As of two years later, four families had received a total of 700,000 dollars. (The New York Times, August 11, 2011)
This was the real life case that inspired the John le Carré book (and subsequent film) The Constant Gardner. In order to avoid a lawsuit, le Carré was forced to add words at the end denying that any reference was intended to any "actual person or outfit," but "as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard."
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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