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VACCINE MORE EXPENSIVE IN PH?

Another Senate hearing on Dengvaxia fiasco sought

/ 07:24 AM December 20, 2017

The Senate should hold another hearing on the Dengvaxia fiasco to determine if Aquino administration officials committed technical malversation in funding the P3.5-billion dengue immunization program, Sen. JV Ejercito said on Tuesday.

Ejercito said the Senate should also look further into reports that other countries were able to buy Dengvaxia at prices lower than the amount paid by the Philippine government for the vaccine.

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Off-budget expenditure

“I really want to pursue this issue because I really think this is a case of malversation because they sourced the P3.5 billion to buy Dengvaxia from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF),” Ejercito said in a radio interview.

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“This was not in the GAA (General Appropriations Act). It was not in the budget,” he added.

Ejercito noted that former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad had said the President had the authority to realign budget savings at the end of the year.

“You can do that if it’s for the same agency, but from the MPBF itself, which has no connection at all to Dengvaxia … The implication here is that this is really malversation,” Ejercito said.

“The resource persons still have a lot of explaining to do. I myself was not convinced by the explanation of Secretary Abad on where they got the savings and money to buy Dengvaxia,” he added.

Ejercito said former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., former Health Secretary Janette Garin, and Abad could be invited to the hearing.

Other countries paid less

He said he also wanted to confirm reports that Dengvaxia was sold at lower prices to other countries.

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“We also received information that other countries that purchased Dengvaxia bought it at a lower price than the price paid by the DOH (Department of Health). It’s good to pursue that because we did not touch on that although we had a long hearing,” Ejercito said.

He said he would talk to Sen. Richard Gordon, the Senate blue ribbon committee chair, about another hearing by the panel. “There are really many questions like what came out in this last hearing about the pressure on (former Health) Secretary (Paulyn) Ubial,” he said.

The blue ribbon committee held its last hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy on Thursday, a day before Congress adjourned for Christmas.

He said his bill that would make the Food and Drug Administration independent of the DOH could also be
discussed.

The DOH halted its immunization program after Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia, announced the results of new analysis that showed the vaccine could make symptoms worse in vaccinated people who had not been previously exposed to the dengue virus.

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TAGS: Dengue Vaccine, Dengvaxia, JV Ejercito, Sanofi Pasteur
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