PAO chief Acosta cries ‘conflict of interest’ on Dengvaxia probe

Gaea Katreena Cabico - The Philippine Star
PAO chief Acosta cries �conflict of interest� on Dengvaxia probe
The Public Attorney’s Office filed a civil suit over the controversial Dengvaxia, asking for over P4 million in damages for the family of a 10-year-old girl the agency claimed had died after receiving the anti-dengue vaccine.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta cited “conflict of interest” as the reason why her agency refuses to cooperate with the Department of Health and forensic pathologists on the probe into the deaths allegedly linked to Dengvaxia.

In an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” Friday, Acosta said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III “should know the answer.”

The PAO chief cited her unpleasant exchanges with Dr. Raquel Fortun—one of the two forensic pathologists in the country—in the past.

“She always criticizes PAO. Why would you let doctors who criticize our office join us? It seems that Dr. Duque has trust and confidence in them and not with us. Why should we let our doctors be shabbily treated or be maligned? What’s that? That’s conflict of interest,” Acosta said.

On Wednesday, Duque said that Acosta has been unresponsive to DOH’s request seeking a copy of PAO’s report which claimed finding a “pattern” that allegedly led to the deaths of at least five kids vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

READDuque: Leave Dengvaxia fiasco to experts

Acosta, moreover, linked Fortun and another forensic pathologist Dr. Ma. Cecilia Lim to Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

She claimed that Fortun is a consultant of Accra Law Office, the legal aide of Sanofi; while she tagged Lim as Fortun’s affiliate.

“Kanino ba sila? Kanino bang interest pinoprotektahan nila? Unlike these doctors helping us, wala silang conflict of interest,” Acosta said.

In an interview with DZRH Thursday, Fortun admitted that lawyers of Sanofi had been consulting her on the cases of the children who had died allegedly due to the controversial dengue vaccine.

But she said she has not yet evaluated the cases because she is still waiting for reports from PAO.

'Not a drama'

Acosta denied that allegation that her office fans panic and hysteria among the public. 

"Drama? This is not drama, my God! People are crying in front of the dead children.This is not a drama! Sino ba gumawa ng drama? Sanofi, Dr. [Janette] Garin. Alam niyo na 'yung adverse reaction tapos nag-mass vaccination pa kayo?" she said. 

READGarin: Some sectors using vaccinated kids to sow panic

PAO filed a civil suit over the controversial Dengvaxia, asking for over P4 million in damages for the family of a 10-year-old girl the agency claimed had died after receiving the anti-dengue vaccine.

Acosta led the filing of the civil case against 30 respondents, including former health officials, headed by Garin and the board and officers of Sanofi and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp.

The review of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital found out that only three of the 14 who died after being vaccinated with Dengvaxia contracted dengue. But it said the panel still needs to conduct more tests. 

More than 830,000 people have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia since it was launched during the term of former DOH secretary Janette Garin.

READGovernment: PAO autopsies on vaccine deaths to continue

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