• Govt to sue Sanofi


    THE Department of Health (DoH) will file charges against pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine.

    Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd on Thursday said they will sue Sanofi over the fiasco. The company earlier warned that the vaccine may cause severe dengue on those without prior infection.

    “Eventually it’s the court of law that is going to decide in so far as the liability of Sanofi is concerned,” Duque said in a television interview.

    He said the government may also ask for a refund of P1.4 billion or roughly over $27.6 million for the unused dengue vaccine.

    “I’m looking at it stage-wise, step-wise. I’ll probably talk to them. I’ll tell them, ‘We have 1.5, 1.4 billion worth of remaining unused vaccines. We’ll return it and they pay us back,’” Duque added.

    The Health department may also ask for an indemnity fund from the company in case the government will later uncover cases of severe dengue in previously vaccinated children.

    The pharmaceutical giant may also be held liable if it was found to have withheld crucial information “that would have changed the outcome of all of these problems and the decision-makers in the Department of Health in the previous administration.”

    “It’s [going to]get there. I’m sure it’s [going to]get there, but the investigation will be able to produce the necessary pieces of evidence,” the health chief said.

    Duque and other health officials will attend separate legislative inquiries at the Senate and House of Representatives next week to present documents pertinent to the investigation.

    Earlier this week, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration ordered a recall of Dengvaxia.

    The DoH suspended last week the dengue immunization program following the advisory of Sanofi that while Dengvaxia is effective for those who had dengue, those without prior infection may contract a more severe case of dengue fever.

    About 700,000 school children in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon were inoculated with the vaccine.

    The Philippines was the 1st country in Asia to approve the vaccine for individuals aged 9 to 45 years old in December 2015.

    Speak up

    At the Senate, Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito urged former President Benigno Aquino 3rd to speak up about the vaccine controversy.

    Ejercito, who heads the Senate committee on health and demography, issued the statement following reports that the former president met with Sanofi officials before the government procured the anti-dengue vaccine.

    Manila Times columnist and former ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao in his column published on December 4, said that it was Aquino 3rd who ordered the Department of Health to purchase P3.5 billion worth of the dengue vaccines from Sanofi.

    “It would be better if the former president will speak about the vaccine particularly his meeting with Sanofi, not because we are accusing him of something but for him to shed light on the matter,” Ejercito said during the Kapihan sa Senado news forum.

    “Why there was a meeting before the procurement that is the issue that needs to be answered and if there were shortcuts in the process or if it was done in haste,” he added.

    with Jeff Antiporda


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