Sanofi rejects request to refund used Dengvaxia, support compensation fund

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 5) — The maker of Dengvaxia turned down the Health Department's demand to refund used dengue vaccine vials.

Sanofi Pasteur on Monday said agreeing to the demand will mean Dengvaxia does not work.

"Agreeing to refund the used doses of Dengvaxia would imply that the vaccine is ineffective, which is not the case," it said in a statement.

The pharmaceutical company added when it agreed to refund the initial P1.161 billion for unused vaccines, it was to show its commitment to cooperate with Health officials.

It reiterated the vaccine remains beneficial for those previously infected. Sanofi's earlier study showed those with no previous dengue infection and got vaccinated could contract "severe diseases."

During the hearing of the House Committees on Health and Good Government and Public Accountability on the Dengvaxia mess, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III explained why they were demanding a refund for the used vaccines.

"We thought the claimed protection provided by Dengvaxia was not completely there. We were losing confidence in the claimed protection," he said on Monday.

Sanofi Pasteur Asia Pacific head Thomas Triomphe said they looked into the demand before declining it.

"Reimbursing the used doses will give  the wrong signal and will create more fear. It will  also create more concern for other vaccination programs  in the Philippines," he said.

A group of doctors earlier said parents are refusing vaccines following the scandal over Dengvaxia.

Last December 1, the government halted its nationwide dengue vaccination program that began in 2016, after 837,000 children were immunized.

Sanofi Pasteur said it is willing to provide free doses of the vaccine if the government decides to bring back the immunization program.

"If the Department of Health decides to reinstate the community-based dengue vaccination program following a more complete evaluation of the new data on the vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur would be willing to provide new doses of the vaccine free of charge," it said.

Sanofi won't support compensation fund

The Dengvaxia maker also rejected the Department of Health's request to financially support hospitalized vaccinated children.

Citing Philippine General Hospital (PGH) experts' findings, it said there is no evidence to directly link Dengvaxia to 14 child deaths after taking the vaccine.

"As for the indemnification fund, there are no safety or quality concerns about the Dengvaxia vaccine...  Should there be any case of injury due to dengue that has been demonstrated by credible scientific evidence to be causally related to vaccination, we will assume responsibility," it said.

The PGH's Dengue Investigative Task Force on February 2 reported 3 out of the 14 children died of what is called dengue shock syndrome after receiving the vaccine. Experts said two of the three deaths may be caused by vaccine failure.

Triomphe said the efficacy of Dengvaxia against severe dengue is at 93.2 percent, adding UP-PGH's findings are aligned with theirs. The Health Department said the experts panel only investigated 14 deaths, with 15 more cases left to be looked into.

The Health Department and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. will shoulder the cost of hospitalization of those who had Dengvaxia.