Almost 15 years after the fact, Nigerians are officially allowed to sue Pfizer over the company's illegal use of a new antibiotic on their children.
Pfizer is accused of illegally testing a drug, Trovan, in Nigeria and then killing 11 children and injuring 181 others during a meningitis epidemic in 1996. Trovan was banned in the EU in 1999 and in the U.S. was first restricted by the FDA to adult use and soon after to adult emergency care only, yet this case has been dragged out for years.
The BBC reports that the families in Nigeria say they did not consent to Pfizer's testing of the antibiotic, which in addition to the deaths resulted in blindness, paralysis, and brain damage.
Pfizer has since tried to argue that the Nigerians cannot sue under the Alien Tort Statute, and apparently hopes to dismiss the case on grounds that Nigeria will be a more suitable place for the case to be heard—although the U.S. government does not agree, having already urged the Supreme Court to reject, as it did yesterday without comment, Pfizer's appeal.
The Supreme Court has issued a few disappointing rulings recently, and this case is still open, but at least the Court didn't decide it should be closed.