Feasting On The Misery Of Genuine 1996 Trovan Patients Continues!

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Even as familiar as I am with the intrigues and opportunism associated with what has  become known as the Trovan Saga, I thought I had seen the worst in opportunism in  the ways persons not even remotely affected by a tragedy have tried to line up to  reap from the situation. I thought I had seen in the way these opportunists have  sought to rubbish presages with otherwise impeccable credentials.

But now I must confess to being overawed by the extent to which these opportunists  can go. Their actions not only beats the imagination, but passeth all understanding!  I only wonder what other tricks they will come up with once we dispose of this one.

I am at a loss as to what the authors and instigators of the article titled  “Suffering of Pfizer victims drags on – Families remain uncompensated” published in  the Saturday, 04 December 2010 issue of Weekend Trust, hope to achieve.

To begin with, there is a subsisting injunction secured by Maisikeli’s Trovan  Victims’ Forum (TVF) restraining the Board of Trustees from paying out any  compensation money. One would have expected the report to be an indictment of  persons, under any guise but for selfish reasons, who use their positions to  frustrate the fool-proof process, including a time-tested scientific approach that  had been negotiated in a most civilized manner to guarantee a speedy redress of the  suffering of the genuine patients of the Trovan trial.

But what do we find — an “investigative” report that, for its lack of balance and –  inevitably – wrong conclusions, only succeeds in muddying the waters.

Inaccuracies are the ingredients with which wrong conclusions are baked. The article  is full of them. I will briefly rebut these inaccuracies:

•A very simple piece of inaccuracy in the article is the claim that 217 were tested,  while the actual figure is 196 – even then only half of these were tested with the  Trovan. The clinical trial was designed for 200 participants, but only 196 patients  were actually tested.

•Another tissue of inaccuracy is the claim that the settlement agreement stated that  all patients would receive compensation by October 15, 2009. No date was set for any  compensation, as each patient would have to undergo DNA testing prior to any  determination as to payment of any compensation.

•It is false to say that each patient was to be paid $175,000 when it was left to  the discretion of the Board to determine how much was payable to each patient or  their relatives.

•The settlement terms did not provide for any payment to the Federal Government of  Nigeria beyond reimbursement for legal fees and expenses incurred by the Federal  Government associated with the federal lawsuits, and pursuant to the settlement, the  Federal Government’s counsel of record was paid. It is important to state quite  clearly that there was no payment made to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Indeed  former President Yar’Adua wasn’t disposed to seeking monetary compensation for the  government because he felt the matter was really between Kano State and Pfizer and  he encouraged both to reach a settlement in the interest of the patients. More  importantly he felt that relevant federal government agencies had given approval to  the study. The Federal Ministry of Justice can corroborate this assertion.

•Concerning Governor Shekarau, you are not obliged to share his political  persuasion, but no one is going to take it from him that the Trovan settlement is  one thing that he did right. And it does not make sense for dubious people to  confuse issues in order to reap where they did not sow.

•The settlement terms never included the fact that “anyone who came with a patient  would be given something, whether or not DNA test was carried out on them.” All  claimants are required to undergo DNA testing.

No thanks to the machinations of Alhaji Maisikeli and his cohorts in the TVF, as a  result of the injunction they received from the Court, the work of the Board with  regard to determining compensation of the patients has been delayed for the past six  months and has now been grounded, at least temporarily. Thus, the truth is that if  all those involved had been allowed to submit to the DNA testing procedure, all  genuine claimants would have been paid by now. If as a result of the injunction the  process has not been allowed by Maisikeli and his TVF to take place, they cannot  turn around, as they are now doing, to accuse the Board of Trustees of delaying  payment to the patients.

And all those who are genuinely sensitive to human suffering, who cherish fair play  and who abhor opportunism must rise up and raise their voices against the nefarious  devices of these real enemies of the genuine patients of the Trovan trial.

They are not just satisfied with spurious and bogus court cases or casting  aspersions on a globally accepted method of verifying claims based on genetics, they  have decided to take to the pages of unwary newspapers not only to discredit but  frustrate a process and procedure that offer the best options in responding to the  legitimate entitlements of very vulnerable people.

•Dr. Abdullahi wrote from Kaduna, may be reached on  [email protected]

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