MANILA - (UPDATE) Pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur has paid the government part of its promised reimbursement for unused doses of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Friday.
The French firm, which last year admitted the vaccine could lead to more severe symptoms on those who had not been previously infected by the mosquito-borne disease, has paid more than a billion pesos to the Philippine government as of Thursday, said Duque.
"There has already been a refunded amount to the tune of P1,161,000,000. Kaunting kaunti na lang ang kulang," he told parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia in Pampanga.
(Only a small amount was left unpaid.)
"Hindi nangangahulugang tapos tayo diyan dahil kung may ebidensiya o patunay na ikinubli na isang mahalagang impormasyon na nakapagbago sana ng desisyon na isagawa ang Dengvaxia program, kung lilitaw ang impormasyon na ito, isisiguro natin na may mananagot," he said.
(This does not mean that it's over because if there is evidence that significant information was left undisclosed before a decision was made on the Dengvaixa program, if this information floats, we will make sure that someone will be held liable.)
On Monday, Sanofi Pasteur said it has accepted DOH's request to reimburse the government for unused Dengvaxia vials, but stressed that the move is not related to any safety or quality issues with the vaccine.
Last week, Duque said it wrote to the company to ask for P1.4 billion for the remaining unused vials of Dengvaxia and to shoulder the cost of tests for the vaccine recipients.
Sanofi's admission last year prompted the DOH to halt its immunization program, which was earlier conducted on about 830,000 public school students. Authorities also suspended the sale of Dengvaxia.
Lawmakers also launched a legislative inquiry into the matter.
Duque, in his dialogue with the parents in Pampanga, said apart from the refund that the government sought from Sanofi, the firm should also provide an indemnity fund for the families of children who are believed to have passed away due to the adverse effect of the vaccine.
"Dapat silang magkaroon ng hustisya, kinakailangan na magkaroon ng malinaw na indemnification fund na kung saan kukunin para suportahan at bahagi ng hustisya na kailangang ipadama sa mga pamilya na nawalan ng kanilang anak," he said.
(They should receive justice, they should have a clear indemnification fund where support money may be obtained and this will be part of justice families who lost their children should feel.)
The Public Attorney's Office recently claimed their forensic examination found a supposed pattern leading to the deaths of at least 5 children who were given Dengvaxia.
Duque previously confirmed that some of the 14 children who died after receiving the vaccine showed signs of "severe dengue."
The DOH has also commissioned independent experts to pursue a separate inquiry in the interest of public health and safety, though the results of this study have not been disclosed. - with Agence France Presse