By Charina Clarisse Echaluce
Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to meet with its officials, after Department of Health (DOH) demanded the company to refund the P1.4 billion unused Dengvaxia and shoulder the testing expenses of vaccinated students.
“We acknowledge the request made by the Philippines’ Secretary of the Department of Health, Francisco Duque, for the reimbursement of unused doses of Dengvaxia,” Sanofi said in a short statement.
The company behind the Dengvaxia vaccine, which was used in the government’s mass immunization program involving around 830,000 children, disclosed that it has already asked the health chief to discuss the issue with them.
“We have recently asked for a meeting with Secretary Duque to discuss this issue directly, which we hope can take place in the very near future,” it stated.
On November 29, 2017, Sanofi Pasteur announced a “new finding” on Dengvaxia.
“The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection…. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection,” Sanofi said in a previous statement.
On December 1, 2017, Duque put on hold the government vaccination drive.
Yesterday the health department disclosed that it has asked Sanofi Pasteur to refund the unused Dengvaxia and shoulder the testing of the vaccinated children.
In a letter sent to Thomas Triomphe, head of Sanofi Pasteur Asia Pacific, the DOH laid down its demand for Sanofi to refund in the amount of P1.4 billion which corresponds to the remaining unused vials of Dengvaxia.
In a separate letter, the health department requested the company to conduct serotesting of the vaccines using a newly developed test to determine their pre-vaccination status at no cost to the government.
The DOH, as well, requested documents on all the ongoing clinical trials and other studies involving Dengvaxia in the Philippines; including proof that they have passed ethics review standards of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
“The risk benefit ratio of Dengvaxia has significantly changed as the risk caused by the introduction of the vaccine to seronegative people has greatly outweighed its benefits, if any,” Duque said.
“The Dengvaxia vaccine which Sanofi Pasteur aggressively promoted and sold to the Philippine government has undeniably failed to deliver its supposed clinical benefit and safety claims, hence, considered defective under Philippine civil laws,” he added.