Gov’t to demand full refund, damages from Sanofi

The Philippine Star
Govât to demand full refund, damages from Sanofi

This came after Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III urged the Department of Health (DOH) to demand a full refund instead of just asking for a P1.2-billion refund for the unused vials of Dengvaxia.  File

MANILA, Philippines — The government is demanding a full refund of P3.5 billion for the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia as well as payment for damages from pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur.

This came after Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III urged the Department of Health (DOH) to demand a full refund instead of just asking for a P1.2-billion refund for the unused vials of Dengvaxia.

Pimentel said the government deserves a full refund because Sanofi has failed to deliver on its promise that Dengvaxia is totally safe and effective.

“I support Senator Pimentel’s  statement that we should demand full refund of all Dengvaxia vaccines,”  Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told The STAR yesterday.

Duque explained that he only required Sanofi to initially refund the unused vials of the vaccines for “practicability.”

“I demanded a refund for the purpose of using the money to assist the vaccinated children and their families aside from the fact that the vaccines are set to expire in September,” he said.

Duque also said he does not want the case to drag in court, and the DOH will eventually seek a full refund from Sanofi.

“I want to assure everyone that a refund will not also exonerate Sanofi of liability for this mess,” he added.

But Malacañang may demand not just a full refund of the P3.5 billion spent on Dengvaxia, but also damages from Sanofi for the health hazards arising from the vaccine.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government would seek a full refund and damages even if Sanofi had returned P1.2 billion worth of unused anti-dengue vaccine.

“After the investigation and it has been established that Sanofi had suppressed some information that harmed our young people, we won’t just seek a full refund. We will also seek damages,” Roque told radio station dzMM yesterday.  

“But that can only happen after the investigation of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the Senate because we cannot act based on hearsay especially of people who are not experts,” he added. 

Senate to resume probe

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee and health committee will resume today their joint probe into the procurement of Dengvaxia.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, said the fourth hearing will continue to tackle “the issues on the undue haste of procuring the vaccines and the accountability of the Office of the President, the DOH, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Budget and Management, and other agencies that may be involved.”

“While charges in courts may already have been filed by certain groups, the duty of Congress to propose recommendations in aid of legislation, particularly on the undue haste of procuring the vaccines, remains to be in place. It is Congress’ duty to make people aware of these issues,” Gordon said.

Earlier, Gordon said the committee would ask DOH and the Department of Education and Department of the Interior and Local Government to work together and submit the list of all the names of the people injected with Dengvaxia and classify them whether at risk or not.

More than 730,000 students from Central Luzon, Calabarzon and National Capital Region were administered the vaccine to address the rising cases of dengue fever.

Gordon said a complete list would help the government to easily monitor them once they develop symptoms of dengue or adverse reactions from the vaccine.

Gordon also wants the talks between the DOH and Sanofi on the financial settlement as well as the monitoring of inoculated kids to be transparent.

“People are already very anxious and enraged by the latest developments in this anomalous issue, with forensic examination on the exhumed bodies of several children who received the Dengvaxia vaccine showing emerging patterns that led to their death,” he said.

The controversy stemmed from the recent admission of Sanofi that Dengvaxia can be harmful if injected to people without a history of dengue. The vaccine reportedly causes severe dengue to people without prior infection, but effective for those who were infected before.

The Public Attorney’s Office is conducting a forensic examination on the bodies of nine children who died after they were given the vaccine.

                       – With Paolo Romero    

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