Sanofi refunds ₱1.16-B for unused Dengvaxia vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 20) — Sanofi Pasteur has refunded ₱1.16 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia dengue vaccines.

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III made the announcement at an event in San Fernando, Pampanga Friday.

"As of yesterday (Thursday)...ay refunded amount to the tune of ₱1.161 million," Duque said.

However, Duque clarified the reimbursement does not put the French pharmaceutical company off the hook, adding the investigation continues on whether Sanofi withheld significant information regarding the controversial vaccine.

"Kung may ebidensiya o patunay na ikinubli ang isang malaking impormasyon na nakapagbago sana ng desisyon, nasagawa ang Dengvaxia immunization program, kung lilitaw at lilitaw itong impormasyon na ito, sigurado po ang inyong DOH isisiguro natin na may mananagot," he said.

[Translation: If there is evidence that they withheld important information that could have changed the decision on the implementation of the Dengvaxia immunization program, if this comes out, your DOH will make sure that people will be made accountable for it.]

 

Duque added this must be done to protect the families affected and to make sure families whose children died are given justice.

On December 1, the DOH temporarily halted its dengue vaccination program after a clinical study by Sanofi showed those not previously infected with dengue and got vaccinated with Dengvaxia could contract "severe disease."

More than 800,000 children were immunized with Dengvaxia, the world's first dengue vaccine. The DOH implemented the program in 2016.

Duque further said a clear indemnification fund must be set up to provide for families affected.

The Public Attorneys' Office (PAO) forensics expert has recently revealed the pattern in the dengue deaths of at least seven vaccinated children showed a "strong link" to Dengavaxia.

READ: PAO forensic consultant suspects 'strong link' between Dengvaxia, seven deaths

In December, the DOH said it would demand the full refund of ₱3.5 billion for the Dengvaxia vaccine it bought from Sanofi.

READ: DOH to demand from Sanofi full refund of P3.5 billion spent on Dengvaxia

Earlier this month, Sanofi Pasteur revealed it would reimburse ₱1.4 billion – the cost of the unused Dengvaxia vaccines.

The vaccine maker clarified the reimbursement was not because of a quality issue with Dengvaxia and said it would meet with DOH officials regarding the refund.

DOH task force recommends continued suspension of dengue program

Meanwhile, the DOH Dengue Task Force on Friday recommended the anti-dengue immunization program should remain suspended.

"As a precautionary measure, the mass immunization program should remain suspended at this time. In view of the sparse information from the clinical trials on the consequence of administration of less than three doses of Dengvaxia, a firm recommendation to complete the schedule of vaccination cannot be given," it said.

Grade 4 students from regions with the highest number of dengue cases, namely the National Capital Region, Calabarzon and Central Luzon, were scheduled to receive three doses administered every six months under the program.

Duque said the government is on top of the situation.

"We are now doing as best as we can to unearth that possible data or information that couldn't changed the outcome of this controversy," he said.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.