Duque backs unified gov't front in Dengvaxia mess

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2018 11:54 AM | Updated as of Dec 12 2019 05:57 PM

'No way!' Health chief nixes Dengvaxia market return

MANILA - Health Secretary Franciso Duque III on Tuesday said he will urge President Rodrigo Duterte to initiate a united state response over the scrapped P3.5 billion dengue vaccination drive, which has divided agencies.

"Hopefully, this week magkausap kami para maiparating sa kaniya ang kagustuhan natin na all-of-government approach dapat ang gawin dito, one-government approach -- hindi iyung iba-ibang ahensiya ay iba-iba," Duque told DZMM.

(Hopefully, we can speak this week and inform him of our desire for an all-of-government or one-government approach -- instead of different agencies acting on their own.)

The Public Attorney's Office is investigating a possible pattern in the deaths of at least 18 children who received doses of Dengvaxia in the past 2 years.

The office has refused to work with a panel of experts tapped by the Department of Health (DOH) due to alleged conflicts of interest.

The expert panel from the Philippine General Hospital, meanwhile, had said only 2 reported deaths may have been caused by vaccine failure.

According to Duque, these contradicting reports can weaken the government's planned lawsuit against Sanofi.

"Nagkakalituhan tapos baka bandang huli, pagtawanan tayo ng Sanofi at sabihing, 'Kita mo, sila-sila, hindi sila nagkakasundo.' Makakapangpahina ng kaso natin ito e," he lamented.

(This is creating confusion and in the end Sanofi may just laugh at us saying, 'Look at them, they can't even agree among themselves. That will weaken out case.)

"Lahat naman ng aming resulta... ibinibigay namin sa Department of Justice, kay Secretary [Vitaliano] Aguirre, para kung magamit nila, well and good, kung ito'y makapagcomplement and makapagpalakas ng batayan ng pagsampa ng anuman kaso sa Sanofi at ilang opisyal. Okay naman, wala naman kaming problema doon," he added.

The DOH, he said, will consult Solicitor General Jose Calida this week on its legal action over Sanofi's refusal to refund the government for the P1.8 billion spent on used Dengvaxia doses.

The French pharmaceutical firm last year said Dengvaxia could lead to more severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease before. It paid an initial P1.16 billion refund last month for unused vaccine doses.

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During the interview, Duque also rejected suggestions to let private hospitals offer Dengvaxia while its mass distribution to public school students remains suspended.

"Maraming violation ang Sanofi kaya nga sinuspinde na CPR (Certificate of Product Registration) niyan. Gustuhin man nilang ibalik sa merkado, talagang hindi puwede dahil nakitaan... No way!" he said.

(Sanofi committed many violations so its CPR was suspended. Even if they want to return Dengvaxia to the market, that cannot be allowed. No way!)

Among Sanofi's alleged infractions was its failure to submit post-marketing reports and risk management plans for Dengvaxia, he said.

The firm has maintained that its world-first dengue vaccine is safe and effective for those who have already contracted dengue.