Garin 'strongly denies' negotiating dengue vaccine price with Sanofi

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2017 04:24 PM

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin speaks Monday at the first Senate hearing on government's controversial dengue immunization program. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Thursday belied reports that she negotiated with French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur over the price of a dengue vaccine that was sold to the Philippines in 2015.

"I strongly deny that. I did not negotiate with the price. Sanofi came to the Philippines and presented their proposal to the government," Garin said at a Senate hearing. 

"I just made a joke and I said, 'Sana po buy one, take one 'yan. If the private [sector] buys one, give one to the government.' But I never negotiated the price," she said, under the questioning of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Sen. Richard Gordon.

Last month, Sanofi admitted that its Dengvaxia vaccine may cause "more severe cases of dengue" if given to those who never had the mosquito-borne disease before.

Critics had slammed Garin for "hastily" approving the administration of the dengue vaccine to at least 830,000 children using P3.5 billion in tax payer's money.

Last week, Garin initially denied that she met with Sanofi representatives in 2015 to discuss details about the dengue vaccine the French pharmaceutical giant was still developing at the time.

Garin later on backtracked and admitted that she dined with Sanofi officials to discuss Dengvaxia.

"Tama po 'yun, nagkamali po talaga ako kasi I was being asked on a dinner that happened 2 years ago," Garin told ABS-CBN News' Henry Omaga Diaz in an exclusive interview.

Garin made the clarification after ABS-CBN obtained a copy of a May 2015 report dispatched by the Philippine Ambassador to France to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that detailed what Garin did during a trip to Paris in 2015.

But Garin told reporters there is no malice in her meeting with Sanofi officials, during which the French drug-maker revealed the price of the vaccine.

"Kung may malisya 'yun, bakit mayroon tayong kasamahan from DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs)? 'Yung una po kasi talagang intention eh lalabas po ba 'yung bakuna? Kailan ba? Magkano ba talaga presyo?" she explained in the interview.

"It's not a midnight deal. Everything was above board. The integrity management committee report of the DOH will show that. Inuulit ko. The report is there," she said.