DOH prepares civil suit vs Sanofi over Dengvaxia mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2018 02:28 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2018 01:41 PM

A nurse arranges boxes of Sanofi's dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which have been recalled from local health centers, in the district of Manila on December 5, 2017. Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it will lodge a civil case against Sanofi Pasteur after the French drug maker refused anew to refund Manila for used anti-dengue vaccine doses. 

Sanofi had said it rejected the DOH's second request to reimburse the P3.5 billion it spent on the Dengvaxia vaccine, which the firm had said could worsen dengue in some cases. 

The DOH will seek assistance from the Office of the Solicitor General in filing the civil suit on the grounds that Sanofi supposedly sold a "defective product," said Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo. 

"It's not the product that they promised it to be. Parang kung nagbenta ka ng sasakyan siguro pagkatapos sinabi nila maganda yon. Tapos in the end nakita ang depekto," he said. 

(It's like selling a car and saying it is good, but in the end a defect will be discovered.) 

"Kailangan isauli 'yun. Hindi naman pwede nong una hndi mo nakita ang depekto wala ka nang kasalanan.

(The product should be returned. You're not absolved just because the defect was not immediately spotted.) 

The complaint may lead to a criminal case if DOH finds additional evidence, said Domingo. 

The previous Aquino administration rolled out the program to vaccinate 830,000 school children with Dengvaxia. 

Sanofi, however, revealed late last year that the vaccine could lead to worse symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne illness before. It paid an initial P1.16 billion refund last month for unused vaccine doses. 

Thomas Triomphe, Asia-Pacific head of Sanofi Pasteur, said the firm paying for used doses "will create more concern and fear" among parents and those who have been immunized.