Drugs, Blackmail, And Wikileaks

by Conor Friedersdorf

Elsewhere at The Atlantic, Walter Armstrong posts this jaw-dropping dispatch:

On Day 12 of WikiLeaks's release of U.S. State Department cables, the daily drip, drip, drip of diplomatic secrets implicated the pharmaceutical industry. The company was Pfizer, the country was Nigeria, and the context was the long-simmering, still-bitter aftermath of the drug giant's quick-and-dirty 1996 trials of an experimental antibiotic for children during a devastating meningitis outbreak. A truly chilling cautionary tale of industry-funded clinical trials in the developing world, this event is recalled in the West mainly as the inspiration for John le Carré's evil-pharma thriller The Constant Gardener.

The cables suggest that the world's largest drugmaker may have blackmailed the head of Nigeria's Ministry of Justice into dropping a $6 billion criminal lawsuit.