Sanofi not yet off the hook in Dengvaxia mess – Palace
The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur is not yet off the hook despite the findings of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) that only three of the 14 children who received the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, had dengue, Malacanang said Monday.
“They must be dreaming if they think they’re off the hook,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said said in a Palace briefing.
The report of the UP-PGH 10-member expert team tasked to investigate the Dengvaxia mess showed that only three of the 14 died due to dengue shock syndrome and two of them possibly from vaccine failure.
But Roque said Sanofi should not be complacent.
“Huwag po silang lumakas ang loob dahil hindi pa po tapos ang usapin,” Roque said. “May VACC [Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption] complaint na election offense iyong ginawa nila. Mayroong reklamo na hindi sila nag-disclose fully kung ano ang side effect ng bakuna. So hindi po ibig sabihin na iyong finding ng UP-PGH ay nagsasabi na siya ay walang kinalaman sa Dengvaxia ay wala na silang pananagutan.”
[They should not get too confident because the issue isn’t closed yet. There’s a VACC complaint that they committed an election offense. There’s a complaint that they did not fully disclose the side effects of the vaccine. So the finding of UP-PGH that says the deaths have nothing to do with Dengvaxia doesn’t mean that they no longer have any liability.]
On Monday, Sanofi said it had written a letter to the Department of Health (DOH) declining a demand from the Philippine government to fully refund the P3.5 billion spent on its anti-dengue vaccine.
But Roque said Sanofi could be made to answer for many things.
“Marami pa pong posibleng pananagutan. Kapag napatunayan na alam nila iyong side effect, hindi nila dinisclose, naku, napakalaking danyos po ang puwede nilang bayaran – hindi lang iyong full reimbursement,” he said.
[There are so many other things for which they could be held liable. If it’s proven that they knew about the side effects all along but did not disclose it, they could pay for huge damages – not just the full reimbursement.]
“Everyone, please, the investigation is ongoing,” he added. “Even the UP-PGH study will be forwarded to the NBI, so that they can conclude their investigation. Let us not make any conclusion either way. And I’m also appealing to even some members of the government, wala pa pong final finding ang NBI, antayin po natin iyan. No one is responsible and yet, no one is off the hook at this stage. Dream on, Sanofi.”
Rejects call to stop autopsy
Malacañang also rejected calls that the government should top conducting autopsies on children who died after being vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
“We are flatly rejecting the call to stop autopsies,” Roque said. “We will perform autopsies as they are required because we need to find the truth.”
He made this statement after he said that he had consulted with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III regarding the issue.
Doctors for Public Welfare (DPW), a group led by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, has said that the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) should stop performing autopsies on suspected Dengvaxia victims.
Sought for comment on the issue, Roque said: “We’re not telling anyone to stop what they are doing. We are just saying that we are flatly rejecting the call of the physicians to put an end to the exhumation because the position of the government is we’re in search of the truth. We will resort to autopsy when it is needed.”
The UP-PGH and the NBI, he said, were both qualified to do the autopsies.
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