By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Riza Hontiveros maintained that Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur should take on the medical expenses of those who contracted severe dengue cases after receiving doses of their vaccine.
Hontiveros, vice chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, today reiterated that the French pharmaceutical company must assist the families of those who had undergone the dengue immunization and later be diagnosed with dengue disease.
More than 800,000, mostly children, have received already shots of Dengvaxia even before Sanofi announced that it provides absolute protection for those who have previously contracted the dengue virus, but, on the other hand, may possibly cause increased risk of severe dengue for those who had no history.
If proven guilty of not informing the government about the risks of Dengvaxia, or ignoring “bad science,” Hontiveros said it only “fair and just” that Sanofi be responsible for the expenses of those who will be infected after receiving the vaccine.
Experts who have attended the Senate’s investigation on the botched immunization program on Thursday blamed the mess on Dengvaxia to “bad science,” which they described as the ignorance and “delayed recognition” of risks. They said government officials may have also been fed with the wrong information about the vaccine.
Hontiveros today noted Sanofi’s “noncommittal” to pay for hospital and other medical bills. “If, at the end of this investigation, we will prove that there were shortcomings on the part of Sanofi, it’s only fair and just to shoulder their expenses. If proven guilty of bad science, likewise admit your responsibilities,” she told Sanofi.
Meanwhile, Hontiveros urged the Department of Health to maintain cooperation with Sanofi and “mobilize resources from its partners in the private sector” to address the concerns over the beleaguered vaccine.
She also said the DOH should reassure and inform the public on its immunization efforts to avoid the prevalence of an “anti-vaccine culture.”