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Allay fears, monitor recipients

Sanofi Pasteur Asia Pacific head Thomas Triomphe is willing to be jailed if bribery and kickbacks are proven to have occurred in the sale of Dengvaxia to the Philippine government. He also assured that the company always followed the regulations of the country. In the ongoing Dengvaxia investigation, accusations have come out with regards to the allegedly rushed purchase of the vaccine that was given to hundreds of thousands of children. It is not surprising that these accusations are now coming out, in light of the recent announcement of Sanofi Pasteur regarding the proper administration of the vaccine.

Dr. Hilton Lam, a member of the Formulary Executive Council (FEC), also admitted that Sanofi Pasteur paid him and the entire FEC team to conduct a cost effectiveness study of Dengvaxia. The FEC panel determines which drugs should be included to the National Formulary, a list of medicines the government could buy and use. This did not sit well with some lawmakers that the manufacturer of the vaccine would pay for the study. But Dr. Lam was apparently given the go-ahead by the committee. I guess it is no different from a candidate commissioning a poll.

President Duterte has also recently stated that he does not want to judge who should be responsible for the controversial vaccine. According to the president, the vaccine should not also be immediately blamed for the deaths being attributed to it. He has left the investigation to Congress, or with an independent body. Personally I prefer the latter. He also does not blame former health secretary Garin for having good intentions “at the time” to curb dengue, based on incomplete information from the manufacturer, as well as an approval from the WHO as to its use. This is in contrast to the number of people, accusers all, screaming for blood.

At present, I am not aware of any other country that has also stopped the sale and use of Dengvaxia. The Philippines and Brazil have implemented a national vaccination program, but with Brazil administering the vaccine to a much smaller number of recipients. The countries that approved Dengvaxia continue to use them. Upon searching the internet on any controversies regarding Dengvaxia, the results were all about the Philippines. I mentioned earlier, the important thing is to allay fears, and monitor those already administered with the vaccine. If many believe that they are at risk, then all the more reason to watch them closely for any ill effects.

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