How a U.S. Court Case Explains Problems Eradicating One of the perennial problems blocking polio

Eradication is the persistent belief that the rounds of vaccination meant to protect children are 
actually a covert campaign to harm them. I’ve seen it myself, in my reporting, and studies examining 
the 23-year effort’s inability to get to zero describe it as well.

From the sanitized safety of the industrialized world, it’s hard to imagine how any neighborhood or 
tribe could hold such views. Which is why the report on Friday of news regarding a 15-year-old court case
 is so important. The actions that prompted the case created mistrust so long-lasting that it undermines 
unrelated medical campaigns, including polio, today.

As reported by Agence France Presse and the Guardian, last week four families 
in Kano, Nigeria received $175,000 each as compensation for the deaths of their
 children, who participated in a drug trial conducted by Pfizer Inc. during a meningitis epidemic in 1996. 
The children were four of 11 who died of meningitis during the trial and whose deaths were laid to their
 receiving the drug Pfizer was testing, Trovan, rather that the existing standard drug, ceftriaxone. 
Several dozen other children who participated in the trial suffered lasting side effects 
including brain damage, paralysis and deafness. The families and the Nigerian government have been
 pressing suits against Pfizer since 2001, and the payments made last week represent the first 
payouts in a $75 million settlement that Pfizer agreed to in 2009 and expanded in February this year.

Maryn McKenna

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