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DENGVAXIA MESS

Pimentel urges DOH to demand full refund from Sanofi

dengvaxia

Dengvaxia from Sanofi. — EDWIN BACASMAS

Published: 11:36 a.m., Jan. 14, 2018 | Updated: 11:50 p.m., Jan. 14, 2018

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to ask not only for a refund on unused Dengvaxia vaccines, but also for the P3.5 billion cost of the entire contract.

Pimentel’s statement came on the heels of DOH’s announcement that it has issued demand letters asking the controversial anti-dengue vaccine manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, to refund the P1.4 billion cost of the vaccines that remain unused and to conduct serotesting of the children who were given the vaccine.

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“All the vaccines were defective from the very beginning. Therefore, under our laws, we should demand the whole P3.5 billion we paid them and not just part of it,” Pimentel said in a statement.

The Senate leader noted that the Civil Code indicates that “you can have a defective product replaced or refunded.”

“Since there is no possible replacement for the vaccine, refund is the only option,” he added.

Pimentel also pointed out that even if Sanofi pays the full amount, it still does not release them from any liabilities that may arise from putting more than 800,000 children at risk.

The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the use of the vaccine in December 2015.

In April 2016, the DOH, under former Health Secretary Janette Garin’s watch, bought the vaccines intended for public schoolchildren in areas with high incidences of dengue.

But the vaccination drive was halted by current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III when Sanofi bared in November 2017 that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms of the disease for people who had not previously been infected by the virus.

The Senate is currently probing the procurement of Dengvaxia through its blue ribbon committee.

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14 children died

At least 14 of the children have died, and the DOH is trying to establish whether Dengvaxia is responsible for their deaths.

“All the vaccines were defective from the very beginning. Therefore, under our laws, we should demand the whole P3.5 billion we paid them and not just part of it,” Pimentel said in a statement.

He was reacting to an announcement of the DOH that it had demanded Sanofi refund P1.4 billion in unused Dengvaxia.

Pimentel said that under the Civil Code, a defective product could be replaced or refunded and because “there is no possible replacement for the vaccine, refund is the only option.”

He also said Sanofi would still be liable for putting more than 830,000 children at risk even after it had made a full refund.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III agreed that the government should get a full refund.

Sotto also pushed for the Senate blue ribbon committee to continue its inquiry into the dengue vaccine mess.

Twenty-one children who had been inoculated with Dengvaxia have brought graft charges against former President Benigno Aquino III, three members of his Cabinet—including former Health Secretary Janette Garin—and senior officials of Sanofi over the fiasco.

They also accused Aquino and the other officials of violating the government procurement law in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco has also brought plunder, graft and mass murder charges against Aquino and the others for the use of Dengvaxia on more than 830,000 children.

The women’s group Gabriela and 70 inoculated children have asked the Supreme Court to order the government to deal with the risk to which the children had been exposed through the immunization program.

They want the government to provide, among other things, medical services to the children who will fall ill as a result of vaccination with Dengvaxia. /je /atm /pdi

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TAGS: contract, Dengue Vaccine, Dengvaxia, DoH, Pimentel, refund, Sanofi
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