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Sanofi to shoulder cost of Dengvaxia deaths

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III talks to former health chief Janette Garin during the Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia mess yesterday. Krizjohn Rosales

Sanofi to shoulder cost of Dengvaxia deaths

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur will shoulder the cost of any death or “adverse event” suffered by those inoculated with its anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, a top executive of the company told a Senate inquiry yesterday.

Sanofi Pasteur Asia-Pacific region head Thomas Triomphe was responding to questions from senators on whether the company was willing to pay for any deaths or illness linked to Dengvaxia.

“Should there be any case relative to vaccination, be it death or any other case, we’ll shoulder the cost if there is causality but has been demonstrated to scientific evidence,” Triomphe told the joint inquiry of the Senate Blue Ribbon and health committees.

“I’m saying that we will shoulder the cost of any death or adverse event that is causally-related to the vaccination,” he said when pressed further by senators.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros thanked Triomphe for his answer, which she said has been squeezed finally out from him after two hearings.

During the hearing, Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, presented the parents of two children –one of whom died and the other fell ill – who testified that their children had been injected with the controversial vaccine.

Triomphe said he completely sympathized with the parents as he is also a father.

He said he has seen and read a lot of media reports on the supposed deaths linked to the vaccine but Sanofi has yet to receive official reports from local authorities on the cases.

Sanofi had already refunded over P1 billion to the Department of Health for the unused vaccines, according to Triomphe.

Health experts, however, told the inquiry that it has to be clearly established first that the reported deaths and illnesses were due to Dengvaxia.

Dr. Mary Ann Lansang, a member of the independent expert group tapped by the DOH, told the inquiry that it may not be that easy to determine whether the deaths or illnesses are linked to Dengvaxia.

She said Sanofi has also linked up with the University of Pittsburgh in the United States to craft testing kits for the purpose.

During the hearing, it was also learned that the DOH, under then health secretary Janette Garin, pushed for the P3.5-billion purchase of Dengvaxia even if the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) had yet to finish its field testing of the vaccine.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, chairman of the health committee, noted stage 3 of the RITM tests was completed only last September when the vaccines were purchased in January 2016 and the inoculations of over 800,000 children done in April that year.

Ejercito said it appeared there was pressure on agencies under the DOH and health officials themselves to approve the purchase.

During the hearing, former health secretary Enrique Ona denied he was the proponent of the Dengvaxia purchase as former president Benigno Aquino III testified in a hearing last year.

Ona also blamed Garin for the mess. Garin, however, countered that it was Ona who actually introduced her to Sanofi Pasteur officials when she was still his subordinate.

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