Paying full refund for Dengvaxia to cause more fear: Sanofi exec
Drug-maker Sanofi Pasteur on Monday said it declined paying the Philippines the full P3.5 billion spent on its anti-dengue vaccine because it will further spur concern and fear among parents whose children received Dengvaxia.
The French pharmaceutical firm, which last year admitted the vaccine could lead to more severe symptoms if given to those who have not had dengue, "respectfully declined" to refund Manila for used doses of Dengvaxia and support an indemnification fund.
"The positive effect of the immunization has been provided and reimbursing the used doses will be de facto admitting that the vaccine is ineffective, which is not the case," said Thomas Triomphe, Asia-Pacific head of Sanofi Pasteur.
"The vaccine is effective and we strongly believe that reimbursing the used doses will give the wrong signal and will create more concern and fear in the parents and the people who have been immunized," he told lawmakers investigating the issue.
"It will also create somehow more concern for any vaccination program in the Philippines and we want to make sure that is not the case," he added.
Sanofi Pasteur last month paid an initial P1.16 billion refund for unused vaccine doses.
Procured in 2016, Dengvaxia was administered to about 837,000 people under a national immunization program, mostly public school students in areas where dengue was reportedly prevalent.
The Department of Health (DOH) last year halted its dengue vaccination program after Sanofi's admission. Authorities also investigated reported deaths among the recipients of Dengvaxia.
Last Friday, the DOH said only 3 out of 14 deaths of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia have been due to complications of dengue.
"Tatlong kaso ay nakitaan ng causal association. Sila ay namatay sa dengue kahit sila ay nagbigyan ng Dengvaxia. Dalawa sa kanila ay maaring dulot ng vaccine failure," said Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo.
The DOH cited results of a probe by a UP Philippine General Hospital panel.
Health officials said, two of those three deaths can possibly be attributed to vaccine failure, but added that additional tests still need to be done.