Duque: DOH formally demands full refund of Dengvaxia vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 31) — The Department of Health (DOH) has demanded the full refund of P3.5 billion worth of Dengvaxia vials — both used and unused — from the dengue vaccine maker.

Facing the Commission on Appointments (CA) for his confirmation hearing Wednesday, Secretary Francisco Duque III said the health department also sought a refund of over P1 billion for used and unused vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur.

"We did send a letter, Friday of last week (January 26), to Sanofi and demanding that the equivalent amount of the used vaccines be refunded as well," he said.

The total cost of unused vaccines is at P1.4 billion. On January 19, the Health chief announced Sanofi Pasteur has refunded an initial ₱1.161 billion for unused Dengvaxia vaccines.

Despite the reimbursement, the Health chief said it does not put the French pharmaceutical company off the hook, adding the investigation continues on whether Sanofi withheld significant information regarding the controversial vaccine.

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.

CNN Philippines' Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.