Pfizer says that a Nigerian court has ruled against adding more claims to allegations that the company improperly tested a meningitis drug on children in 1996.

The court has rejected an attempt to add 85 claims to the existing 54, finding that the new allegations were improperly filed, Ngozi Edozien, Pfizer's managing director for Nigeria, told Bloomberg, noting that the hearings were adjourned until July 20. The Nigerian government is seeking $7 billion in damages and compensation over the company's alleged role in the deaths and injuries of children who received the then-unapproved quinolone antibiotic Trovan (trovafloxacin) in 1996 as part of a clinical study.

Pfizer has constantly denied all the charges that it broke any laws when it administered the drug to children during a following an outbreak of a particularly virulent form of meningitis which ultimately killed 15,000 people. ”We did the right thing, and we answered the country's call,'' Ms Edozien claimed.

However, Tunde Irukera, the lawyer representing the Nigerian government, told the news agency that said the decision was “a very weak ruling'' and is unlikely to hold. He added that he may seek a way to renew the motion to amend the case, adding that proceedings have not actually started and “it’s not a time to clink champagne glasses.'' Pfizer is also facing a similar legal challenge over the Trovan trial in the Nigerian state of Kano.

US federal courts in 2005 threw out two cases against Pfizer over the Nigeria study, citing lack of jurisdiction under international law.