FRENCH pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur on Monday vowed to shoulder the cost of any death “scientifically proven” to have been caused by its dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
“Should there be any case related to the vaccination, death or any other case, we will shoulder the cost if there is a causality that has been demonstrated through scientific evidence,” Sanofi vice president for Asia-Pacific Thomas Triomphe said during a joint Senate hearing into the P3.5-billion dengue vaccination program.
Triomphe said Sanofi was committed to shouldering the medical expenses of those whom the Department of Health considered to have died due to severe dengue.
However, he said the victims should have no record of dengue virus infection prior to their vaccination of Dengvaxia and should have been declared by health authorities to have died due to Dengvaxia
Senator Risa Hontiveros welcomed Sanofi’s assurance.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Triomphe,” Hontiveros told the Senate panel led by Blue ribbon chairman Senator Richard Gordon.
“Finally, Mr. Chairman, we have, on the third and final attempt to ask this question, we have a final confirmation.”
There were 18 countries that availed themselves of Dengvaxia, but it was only in the Philippines where a procurement controversy broke out.
At the resumption of the hearing, Gordon repeatedly slammed what he called the “undue haste” that the dengue vaccine was approved even if it was still in its developmental stage.
The public mass vaccination was conducted during the time of Health Secretary Janette Garin in the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
Only Garin insisted that the dengue vaccination was not done in haste, whereas former Health Secretaries Paulyn Ubial and Enrique Ona expressed contrary views.
Garin said the decision to implement the Dengvaxia vaccine was based on the documents and data available at the time.
She said dengue was an infectious disease, although it was not among the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines.
Ubial said the implementation of the dengue vaccine did not follow the standards set by the Health Department since its immediate implementation had not been required.
Ona said he would not have implemented an immunization program that involved almost a million children.
Ona, who appeared for the first time during the fourth hearing on the issue, said “this should have not been implemented the way it was done.”
“Meaning, targeting almost a million children because the basis for the issues that were being raised were still a big question mark,” Ona said when Gordon asked him to clarify his answer.
Pressed further, Ona said he would not recommend the vaccine because the “red” or “yellow” flag was “very clear.” He said “they should have thought about it before its implementation.”
“If I were the secretary of Health, I would not have implemented it to that extent,” said Ona who was Health secretary from June 2010 to December 2014.
The program was implemented in 2016 with Aquino saying it was Ona who introduced it to him.
Ona renewed his previously issued statement and blamed Garin, his successor, for what he called a “major health nightmare” of the previous administration.
Ona asserted he did not talk to Garin about the program, but the latter denied him.
Garin testified that when she was Health undersecretary, Ona called her twice in 2014 to attend his meetings with Sanofi officials in his office. She recalled Ona even told her to call for a press conference.
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