Sanofi refund not enough

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Top Stories
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Featured Sanofi refund not enough

ASIDE from the refund of the payment for unused vaccines, Sanofi-Pasteur should also give the government at least P2 billion in escrow fund to be used for those children given Dengvaxia who will be hospitalized in the future.

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. said government hospitals should be given enough funds to readily provide the medical needs of school children who had Dengvaxia shots but became afflicted with dengue.

Teves said the French pharmaceutical firm’s refund of P1.2 billion for the unused Dengvaxia vaccines is not enough for the firm to show it sincerely regrets the severe damage and panic it caused  millions of Filipino children.

“There is no telling when an individual who was misled into getting Dengvaxia shots will have severe dengue.  A number of cases of deaths and serious ailments have been recorded as a result of the ineffective vaccine,” Teves said.

To help avert deaths and serious dengue illness, Sanofi-Pasteur should put up a P2 billion fund to readily finance the hospitalization of persons sick with dengue despite receiving the Dengvaxia shots.

However, Teves stressed that allocating the money should be done voluntarily by Sanofi-Pasteur to demonstrate to Filipinos that it is ready to help prevent the dengue threat.

“Such act should not be misconstrued by Sanofi-Pasteur as a measure that would settle its criminal and civil liability to Dengvaxia victims,” he however clarified.

Just recently, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that Sanofi-Pasteur, the French manufacturer of Dengvaxia, has paid back government P1.2 billion for the unused anti-dengue vaccines.

The amount that Sanofi-Pasteur has turned over will be sent to the national treasury, although Duque aired hopes that the money can be used to help victims of Dengvaxia.

An estimated 800,000 schoolchildren have received Dengvaxia shots as part of the anti-dengue program that was initiated by the Aquino administration in 2016.

Transparency urged

To dispel public suspicion, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee wants the ongoing discussions between the Department of Health (DoH) and French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur made transparent.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon), said Sanofi should not only meet with the DoH but also with various health experts.

“People are already very anxious and enraged by the latest developments in this anomalous issue, what with forensic examination on the exhumed body of several children who received the Dengvaxia vaccine showing emerging patterns that led to their deaths. It may further fuel public suspicion if the meetings will not be made transparent,” Gordon explained.

The Blue Ribbon Committee will conduct its fourth hearing tomorrow to tackle the issues on the undue haste of procuring the vaccines and the accountability of the Office of the President, the DoH, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Budget and Management, and other agencies that may be involved.

“While charges in courts may already have been filed by certain groups; the duty of Congress to propose recommendations in aid of legislation, particularly on the undue haste of procuring the vaccines, remains to be in place. It is Congress’ duty to make people aware of these issues,” he stressed.

Sanofi has asked for a meeting with the DOH to discuss the reimbursement and ways to give the public a “more balanced and evidence-based” perspective on the dengue vaccine and the national vaccination program in general. Health Secretary Francisco Duque said his is willing to sit down with Sanofi.

With Marlon Purificacion