JV Ejercito eyes task force to probe dengue vaccine mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2017 11:43 AM

Senator JV Ejercito proposed Thursday the creation of a multi-agency task force to investigate P3.4 billion dengue vaccination program amid fears that it could worsen the disease in some cases.

The government last week suspended the campaign to immunize public school children with Dengvaxia after French drug maker Sanofi disclosed that the vaccine can worsen dengue in people not previously exposed to the mosquito-borne infection.

Ejercito, who chairs the Senate health committee, said the government should not bank its investigation on the Department of Health (DOH) alone as some of its officials worked for the Aquino administration, which rolled out the Dengvaxia program in 2016.

"Ang tingin ko mas maganda ang inter-agency task force, isama na rin natin ang medical experts and probably mga Philippine medical association, para sila po ay magkaroon ng maayos at objective investigation," he told DZMM.

(An inter-agency task, together with medical experts and local medical associations, would be better because they can mount an efficient and objective investigation.)

He added that he was studying drafting a law to separate the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from DOH, its mother agency.

"Mas maganda siguro na maging hiwalay siya, autonomous, independent nang sa ganoon, kung ano man ang dapat aprubahan na food and drugs, hindi siya nakadikit sa DOH," Ejercito said.

"Katulad ng nangyari ngayon, ang DOH ang nag-procure [ng Dengvaxia], tecnically under siya ng DOH, alangan namang pumalag."

(It would be better if FDA is autonomous and independent so that the approval of whatever food and drugs would have no links to the DOH. Take for instance what happened now, the DOH procured Dengvaxia, and the FDA, which is technically under DOH, did not protest.)

Ejercito is set to co-lead with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Monday a legislative investigation into the controversial vaccination program.

DZMM, 7 December 2017