Vaccine maker should set aside fund for dengvaxia patients: lawyer

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2017 10:36 AM | Updated as of Dec 12 2017 08:12 PM

Watch more in iWant or iWantTFC

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur should set aside a fund to help children who may suffer severe dengue symptoms after taking the controversial vaccine Dengvaxia, a public interest lawyer said Tuesday.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco, Jr. said he will urge the Department of Health to create a multisectoral body that will represent parents of vaccinated children, to hear their side and to study the next move.

"Kung magkakatulungan dito at tutulong ang Department of Health ay madaling magbuo ng isang malakas na kaso para mapilit ang Sanofi na maglaan ng pondo para sagutin yung anumang gastusin ng mga batang nabakunahan pagdating ng panahon," he said in a radio DZMM interview.

"This will be the first of its kind. Pag pinag-aralan lang ng mabuti baka makapag-set tayo ng jurisprudence at maging leksiyon ito sa marami, hindi lamang sa Sanofi o pharmaceutical companies pero maging leksyon ito sa iba't ibang malalaking kumpanya na sa ginagawa nilang pagnenegosyo dapat iniisip nila yung maaaring maging epekto ng kanilang mga produkto."

The lawyer said he believes Sanofi has no intention of extending financial help to those who might be affected by the Dengvaxia vaccine. The company, he said, has hired one of the country's top law firms due to rising concerns over the dengue vaccine.

"Paghahandaan nila ito at pagaaralan nila ng mabuti kung anuman yung isasampa laban sa Sanofi. Indikasyon din ito na baka naman may mas malaki pang problem dahil para yung Sanofi maghanda ng ganyan milyon ang ginagastos sa mga abugado pa lamang. Baka hindi lang ito ang puno't-dulo ng problemang ito," he said.

The Philippines has suspended the dengue vaccination program after French drugmaker Sanofi disclosed that the vaccine may cause more severe symptoms on those who had not been previously infected by the mosquito-borne disease.

Over 800,000 public school students have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia since 2016.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the Philippine government will seek a refund and bring to court pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur over the dengue vaccine that spurred a health scare in the country.

On Monday, Sanofi Head for Asia Pacific Thomas Triomphe said there are no deaths linked to the controversial dengue vaccine, which is still being used in 11 other countries.

Francisco said those involved in the dengue vaccine controversy can be held criminally liable.

“Pinakamababa na yun paglabag sa Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Tatayo ito dahil marami silang nilabag na batas lalo na sa pagbili ng mga gamot na ito. Minadali ito. May mga shortcuts silang ginawa, ginamit pa yung Philippine Children’s Medical Center--isang ospital ng gubyerno may P1-bilyong budget lang kada taon--ginamit nila para lang mag procure ng P3.5 billion-worth of Dengvaxia," he said.

He also said he hopes the controversy would not take years to resolve.

“Ang nakasalalay dito mga bata, walang kamuang-muang tinurukan ng bakuna na may deperensiya. Dapat iba ang maging treatment natin dito. Isipin na lang natin paano kung nangyari sa anak mo iyan, di ba?” he said.