Ex-DOH Secretary Garin: No corruption in Dengvaxia purchase

 

Updated with more information

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin denied allegations of corruption in the Aquino administration's P3.5 billion purchase of Dengvaxia.

"I categorically deny any wrongdoing in Dengvaxia deal. I am not involved in corruption, " Garin said on Monday during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and Health Committee probe into the anti-dengue vaccine program mess.

Garin said the procurement of Dengvaxia was not hastily implemented. She said all dealings with vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur were above the board.

"It is not a midnight deal. Everything was above board," she said.

Garin also confirmed she met with the pharmaceutical giant's top officials in Paris, France in 2015. But she clarified she did not negotiate the price of the vaccine.

"There was no price negotiation. They just revealed the price….Kung may malisya 'yun, bakit ako magdadala ng career officials, bakit ako magdadala ng taga European Union, bakit ako magdadala ng taga Department of Foreign Affairs?" she said.

[Translation: There was no price negotiation. They just revealed the price… If there was any irregularity, why would I bring with me officials from European Union and the Foreign Affairs?]

Garin said she met with Sanofi officials regarding the price of selling Dengvaxia to the private sector, not for government procurement.

Meanwhile, she said Brazil bought Dengvaxia for $30 per dose, while the Philippine government bought it only for $20 per dose.

Garin said she is willing to face any investigation to prove there were irregularities in the procurement of Dengvaxia.

On December 22, 2015, the Philippines granted the marketing approval to Dengvaxia, making it the first vaccine to be licensed for the prevention of dengue in Asia. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for the prevention of disease caused by all four dengue types in individuals from nine to 45 years old living in high-risk areas.

On February 11, 2016, the Philippines, under Garin, hosted the worldwide launch of Dengvaxia.

A few weeks after in March, Garin issued a P3-billion disbursement voucher to the Philippine Children's Medical Center to fund the purchase of the vaccines.

Related: Dengvaxia controversy timeline

On April 6, 2016, the government kicked off its P3.5-billion school-based dengue immunization program.

Around 10 percent of over 830,000 students who were immunized with Dengvaxia, but did not have a prior dengue infection, now face contracting a "serious disease," according to Sanofi Pasteur. The government also said at least 32,000 private patients were vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

The House on Wednesday is also set to tackle the Health Department's controversial dengue vaccine program, which has since been suspended amid health risks.