Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, yesterday said the government should pursue a full refund and not just the amount that Sanofi returned for the unused vaccine.
Geremy Pintolo
DOH urged to demand P3-billion refund from Dengvaxia maker
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Health officials have been asked to demand P3 billion in full refund from French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur for the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.

Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, yesterday said the government should pursue a full refund and not just the amount that Sanofi returned for the unused vaccine.

Nograles said the government is entitled to a full refund so it could help thousands of schoolchildren who received the vaccine in 2016 and 2017.

These children are at high risk of contracting diseases including dengue.

Citing a report of the World Health Organization (WHO), Nograles said such risk is highest on the third year from the date of vaccination.

Sanofi has refunded P1.2 billion, which the House wanted to be allocated for the treatment of children inoculated with the vaccine.

The treatment will not only cover dengue, but all other diseases that may be contracted by these children.

Lawmakers have passed a supplemental budget bill containing the amount, but the Senate failed to approve it.

The two chambers will now have to wait until the start of their third and last regular session on July 23 to have the measure approved.

In the meantime, Nograles said the DOH should use relevant appropriations in its 2018 budget to help children who would get sick.

“It is quite unfortunate that the Senate was not able to pass the Dengvaxia victims’ assistance budget, but we all have to move on and make do with what we have at present. The DOH should do everything to assist the Dengvaxia victims even as we await the approval of the supplemental budget in two months. We cannot afford to dilly-dally on this because time is of the essence and lives are at stake,” he said.

The DOH has said its funds were already “overstretched.”

Nograles called on the DOH to continue profiling all 900,000 children inoculated with Dengvaxia in four regions – Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Cebu.

Of the additional P1.2-billion funding, P946 million will be set aside as medical assistance for Dengvaxia recipients who would get sick.

‘Dengvaxia caused kids’ death’

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta insisted anew that Dengvaxia was the cause of death of at least 60 schoolchildren documented by her office.

Acosta contested the claim of former president Benigno Aquino III and health secretary Janette Garin that the deaths could not be attributed to the vaccine, as the causal link has not been established.

In their answers to criminal charges filed by anti-corruption groups Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc., Aquino and Garin said that the exhumation and autopsy of cadavers of Dengvaxia children were not the proper way to determine the causal link.

They said the WHO set blood sampling and examination as the proper method.

Acosta said the method prescribed by the WHO was not applicable to the first 57 cases that the PAO documented.

“Those 57 were already embalmed and could no longer be subjected to blood sampling as the cadavers were contaminated with substances apart from formalin,” she said.

Acosta said the deaths from Dengvaxia documented by their office were caused by internal organ bleeding, edema and hemorrhage – which are adverse side effects of the vaccine as admitted by Sanofi.

She said the DOH even declared 87 deaths possibly caused by the vaccine as of last month. 

Fishing expedition

Garin parried off several cases lodged against her in connection to Dengvaxia, saying her accusers are merely engaging in a “fishing expedition.”

In an interview with One News aired on Cignal TV on Tuesday, Garin reiterated the cases against her, Aquino and several health officials and employees are weak.

She said the investigation on DOH’s dengue vaccination program started six months ago but it is not progressing because “there is no evidence attached to it.”  – With Edu Punay, Sheila Crisostomo

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