By Ben Rosario
A key official of a French drug manufacturer accused of mass selling the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine apologized for his company’s issuance of a global advisory warning the public of the ill-effects of the vaccine if administered to persons who have not yet been infected with the deadly mosquito-borne virus.
Appearing before the joint panel, Thomas Trioumphe, Sanofi Pasteur vice-president for Asia and Pacific, said the firm regretted issuing a public statement informing countries about the effects of the vaccine on people who are considered seronegative.
Triomphe said he understands the parents’ concerns and he is sorry for the confusion if the language used in the global advisory issued last November 29 caused misunderstanding.
Use of term, ‘severe dengue’
He explained that “severe dengue” term was used because they are a highly regulated industry and the term “severe dengue” was used in the clinical study.
“Severe dengue,” in medical language, means the usual symptoms experienced by a dengue sufferer like fever and bleeding gums.
In a press statement, Sanofi Pasteur strongly affirmed that it followed Philippine regulatory procedures when it entered into an agreement with the Department of Health to supply the agency with the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
The apology came after SAGIP Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta chided Trioumphe’s firm for admitting issues against the vaccine belatedly.
“You are very indifferent, damage has already been done. You act as if you can casually play with the lives of the Filipino people, how can you be so inconsiderate,” ranted Marcoleta.
“I fully understand the statements’ effect on the public. I am sorry if that created confusion but there is no need to panic,” said Trioumphe.
At the resumption of the House inquiry into the Dengvaxia controversy, lawmakers noted that the initial conclusions that the procurement of P3.5 billion of the vaccine from Sanofi-Pasteur was made with suspicious haste.
Mindoro Oriental Rep. Doy Leachon lamented that the joint inquiry of the House Committees on Good Government and on Health has to be resurrected only after Sanofi-Pasteur admitted that the vaccine administered to over 800,000 Filipino schoolchildren could trigger adverse health effects if given to persons who remain clean of dengue virus.
The House probe into the issue started over a year ago and was terminated on July, 2017 with the joint panel failing to come up with a report.
Earlier, the Health panel chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan had recommended as early as January that the immunization program be stopped temporarily until there are clear conclusions that Dengvaxia will not cause adverse effects to one’s health.
Asked to declare if the Dengvaxia vaccine is indeed safe as Sanofi-Pasteur belatedly clarified, Trioumphe said it is.
But Tan and the other congressmen were not convinced as they noted that the French pharmaceutical company had retracted a previous announcement about the dangers of Dengvaxia when the controversy stirred public uproar and threatened Sanofi Pasteure with costly class action suits.