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Big Tobacco on trial , updates on Pfizer and Friends Africa

It’s good to see that Nigeria is finally moving against British American Tobacco. A report in The Independent states that the Kano State Government has sued the tobacco giant over allegations that its marketing strategy deliberately targets children. This may be the wake up call that effectively challenges the image of tobacco companies in Nigeria as just another benevolent corporate entity, providing jobs, investing in the economy and building up society. The same article also reports on the court case against Pfizer. Read it here

Elsewhere, on, Roger Bate tries to defend Pfizer arguing that the children in Kano benefited from the flawed meningitis trial, albeit briefly. His analysis based on the supposed outcome makes light of the fact that the issue is that Pfizer, a large mutinational company appears to have flouted basic rules governing clinical trial. That the results appeared favourable is no excuse for this alleged abuse of power. Bate does however highlight the double standard at play with scrutiny of foreign players seemingly more rigorous than for local religious leaders, but fails to grasp the complex interplay between people’s beliefs, the manipulation of politicians and the acceptance of seemingly simple beneficial health interventions.

This is clearly illustrated by the MMR and autism scare in the UK a few years ago which led vaccination rates for measles in the UK to plummet dramatically and is also touched on in this article on polio

While the debate about Pfizer and the ethics of clinical trials continues, a voice calls for more clinical trials to be conducted in Nigeria as a means of bringing advanced technology and interventions within the reach of those who cannot afford them. Read the report here There’s a point there, but the challenge will be providing effective governance of these schemes.

Finally, Friends Africa is an interesting initiative that aims to build support for the Global Fund for AIDS TB and Malaria among African business and political leaders, a useful way of injecting African voices and resources into the global fight against the Big Three

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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