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Pfizer Says Nigerian Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Hear Drug Case

US drug giant Pfizer Wednesday asked a Nigerian court to strike out a lawsuit against it by a state government over a failed 1996 drug test, saying the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

Authorities in Kano, Nigeria's largest state, are seeking 2.75 billion dollars from Pfizer in compensation for the victims of the drug test which took place 11 years ago.

"This court has no jurisdiction to entertain this case ... I want this court to strike out this case", Pfizer's lawyer Anthony Idigbe told the court.

Kano government's lawyer Aliyu Umar asked for more time to enable him prepare his response to Pfizer's request.

Presiding judge Sanusi Ciroma Yusuf then adjourned the hearing to July 30.

The Kano government accuses Pfizer of administering a test antibiotic called Trovan without authorisation or parental consent among children at a field hospital during an epidemic in the city of meningitis, measles and cholera.

Of the 200 children affected, 11 died while many more -- reportedly 181 -- suffered from deafness, paralysis, brain damage and blindness, according to the allegations. Pfizer denies the charges.

The Nigerian federal government filed a similar lawsuit on June 4 in Abuja for almost seven billion dollars (5.2 billion euros) in damages against the US drug firm.

But the government's case suffered an early setback on June 26 when the court rejected a request to allow it to submit "additional facts", before presiding judge Babs Kwewumi adjourned the trial to July 20.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Trovan for adult use in 1997 and the drug swiftly became established as one of the most prescribed antibiotics in the US market.


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