HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III has underlined the need for Health Department chiefs to heed the “expert” recommendations of the Department of Health’s Formulary Executive Council, following the controversial purchase of P3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccines.
Duque said this in an interview Saturday on Super Radyo dzBB, saying the Council was composed of experts in science, public health, and health economics, whose recommendations should be “respected.”
He said their being secretaries of the department did not mean they were already experts in those fields, reason they needed to analyze properly the experts’ reports against which they could rest their case, Duque said in Filipino.
According to official figures, more than 800,000 children had been vaccinated with Dengvaxia before Duque stopped the program.
Former DoH undersecretary Susan Mercado had said the Council was against the mass use of controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia and its subsequent purchase.
Duque said the Council was the DoH secretary’s “protection” when making decisions.
When you encounter any problem, you can point to them since they are the experts who made the recommendations and the Health secretary merely implemented the recommendation, Duque added.
The Council, composed of 11 experts, is a body within the DoH in charge of identifying “diseases for which medicines need to be included in the formulary” based on their review of disease statistics from hospitals and input from specialists, the DoH, among others.
The Council also deliberates on and reviews applications for medicines and prepares a recommendation based on findings by the Evidence Review Group, which evaluates medicines based on assessments of efficacy, risk-benefit, and cost-effectiveness, according to the Revised Implementing Guidelines for the Philippine National Formulary System.
The government’s purchase of the dengue vaccine is now under probe in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, following an advisory by Dengvaxia’s manufacturer that the dengue vaccine, the world’s first, may pose a risk of “severe” dengue to those who have not been infected prior to immunization.