DOJ summons Duque, Garin, 36 others in case of 9 dengue deaths
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has summoned Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, former Health Secretary Janette Garin and several other officials of the government to the preliminary investigation of criminal cases filed by families of nine children whose deaths were being linked to the controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
Apart from Duque, Garin and 12 Department of Health (DOH) officials, subpoenas were also sent to 24 officials of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur Inc., the maker of Dengvaxia, and Zuellig Pharma Corp., Sanofi’s Philippine distributor.
Evidence vs Garin
They were required to appear before a DOJ panel, headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, on June 25.
At the preliminary investigation on Thursday, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda Acosta presented a letter which she said proved that Garin, as then health secretary, ignored a warning against Dengvaxia and proceeded to use the vaccine in a nationwide immunization program that inoculated about 830,000 school children.
Acosta said the March 27, 2016 letter from health experts was received by Garin’s DOH office.
It warned Garin about the risks of using Dengvaxia and mentioned an alternative vaccine, TV003, which cost less.
“The possibility of harm is real because the vaccine does not have a consistent effect on all serotypes of the dengue virus,” said the letter about Dengvaxia.
It was signed by experts from the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippine Medical Association, University of Sto. Tomas, University of the Philippines College of Medicine and nongovernment groups.
The letter came almost a month before the DOH, under Garin, launched the Dengvaxia immunization program.
The 38 individuals summoned by the DOJ have been sued by the families of children Aejay Bautista, Anjielica Pestillos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Art Bataa, Mark Axel Ebonia, Reijazztine Justin Alimagno and Alexander Jaime who supposedly died after being given the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.