FDA told to fast-track vaccines, drug evaluations: DOH

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2022 05:01 PM

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) has tasked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast-track its evaluation of new technologies such as vaccines and medicines, officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Friday.

The FDA needs to "streamline (its) process," Vergeire said.

"Kailangan nila i-facilitate or i-expedite lahat ng kailangan nating technology, katulad ng bakuna, gamot especially now we’re having a pandemic, lalong lalo yung ginagamit natin for COVID-19," she told reporters.

(It needs to facilitate or expedite the evaluation of needed technology such as vaccines and medicines, especially now we’re having a pandemic--everything we use for COVID-19.)

"They need to speed up their evaluations of all of these technologies and evaluations being undertaken by this office para mas maging maganda ang outcomes natin," she said.

(They need to speed up their evaluations of all of these technologies and evaluations being undertaken by this office so our outcomes will be better.)

The FDA should also coordinate with vaccine manufacturers who already have the intention to file an application for a certificate of product registration, Vergeire said. 

The DOH's marching order comes after Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed a resolution seeking to investigate reports of "unused and expired COVID-19 vaccines" that could amount to wastage "equivalent to a whopping P5 billion to P13 billion."

Palace adviser Joey Concepcion has claimed the private sector lost a total of P5.1 billion from some 4.2 million expired COVID-19 vaccines. He blamed the DOH and the Health Technology Assessment Council's (HTAC) "belated decision" to expand the second booster vaccination. 

The DOH is ready to answer any inquiries or investigations, Vergeire said.

"Handa naman pong sumagot sa kahit anong katanungan o kaya imbestigasyon ukol sa ating avccine dpeloyment program," she said.

The country's vaccine wastage is currently "less than 10 percent" which is the threshold set by the World Health Organization, Vergeire said

The figure includes not only expired vaccines, but also broken vials, those with particulate matter, and those destroyed in calamities, she added.

Vergeire, meantime, said the DOH welcomes the appointment of Dr. Samuel Zacate, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s lead physician, as FDA director-general.

"We will closely coordinate with him and the whole of FDA," she said.

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