House sets probe on Dengvaxia mess

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2018 03:24 PM

MANILA - The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability will reopen the investigation into the controversial dengue vaccine that has triggered a nationwide health scare.

The House panel will begin on Feb. 5 its probe on the government's purchase of P3.5 billion worth of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia for a nationwide immunization program initiated under the Aquino administration.

Committee chair Rep. Johnny Pimentel said invitations have been sent out for the scheduled probe.

In setting the hearing, the committee has assumed jurisdiction over Buhay Party List Rep. Lito Atienza's resolution calling for the investigation.

The House inquiry comes after the Department of Health (DOH) suspended its dengue vaccination program following drug-maker Sanofi Pasteur's disclosure that its Dengvaxia vaccine may cause "more cases of severe disease" if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne illness before.

The Food and Drug Administration has also ordered Sanofi to suspend the sale of its dengue vaccine following the company's advisory against its own product.

The House Committee on Health first held an inquiry into the vaccine in 2016, months before Sanofi's warning on the drug. The panel held 3 hearings on the Dengvaxia vaccine from Nov. 9 to Dec. 12, 2016 before terminating its investigation.

The Senate held a separate inquiry that began in December, where former officials, including former President Benigno Aquino III, denied irregularities in the Dengvaxia procurement. 

Sanofi has also maintained that Dengavaxia "continues to be a safe and efficacious vaccine."