US-based Pfizer has begun paying compensation to Nigerian families affected by a controversial meningitis drug trial 15 years ago that left 11 children dead and dozens disabled.

The company has paid $175,000 (£108,000) to four families in the first of a series of payments as part of an out-of-court settlement reached in 2009.

In 1996, 11 children died and dozens more were left disabled after a trial conducted by Pfizer of experimental anti-meningitis drug, Trovan.

During the trial 200 children were given the drug during a meningitis epidemic in the northern city of Kano.

But for years Pfizer has maintained that the deaths and disabilities were cause by meningitis and not the drug.

Pfizer also agreed to sponsor health projects in Nigeria on top of the $35m compensation fund.