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'WHY WE RESORTED TO DNA TEST FOR PFIZER VICTIMS'

By NBF NEWS
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The Board of Trustees of Meningitis Trust Fund in Kano has explained why it resorted to the use of a DNA as a means to ascertain the veracity of the claims of the applicants who have filed up as victims of the Trovan Clinical Trial as a result of the 1996 meningitis epidemic in the state.

The board, which was set up in the wake of the out-of- court settlement between the Kano State Government and the multinational pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, is to implement the agreement and ensure payment of the money to the qualified victims.

Briefing newsmen, the Chairman of the Board, Hon. Justice Abubakar Bashir Wali (retd), observed that none of the claimants or applicants whose claim forms are in their procession, as at present, had met the requirements.

Particularly, he spoke of the submission of the 217 claimants who claimed that their children were deceased either immediately after the meningitis epidemic or subsequently and stated that in the last two weeks, the information they submitted in writing in their claim forms were being verified.

He said: 'The technical team of the Meningitis Trust scrutinized all information and matched it with records including photographs held by Pfizer but which are now in the custody of the Board of Trustee.'

Justice Wali, who was accompanied by the members of the board including Professor Isa Hashim, Dr P. I. Igboeli, Dr Musa Mohammed Borodo, Professor Mu'Tua Ibrahim stated that 'at the end of the exercise, it was clear that all those screened needed to proceed to the stage of DNA test to determine further the veracity of their claims.'

He said the proposed DNA test would be conducted by the US based company, BODE Technologies, adding that as soon the visa challenges of their team are completed, they will arrive in the country to conduct the test.

He argued that they have since written to Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company to the effect that any outstanding sum of money from the agreed money will not be returned to their purse, adding that Pfizer, on their part, are insisting on the contrary. He, however, said discussion in this regard is still open.

He also disclosed that so far, none of the $35 million meant for compensation is in the custody of the board even as he explained that the money for the payment of the DNA test is to be sourced from the fund set aside for the health care project in the state.