DOH chief orders filing of civil case vs. Sanofi over refusal to refund used Dengvaxia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — The government is preparing to file a civil case against pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur for its refusal to refund P1.6 billion worth of used doses of Dengvaxia.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department received a letter from Sanofi Pasteur on Monday, declining the government's demand for a refund.

"I have forwarded the letter to the Legal Department and ordered that a civil suit be instituted against Sanofi Pasteur," Duque said in a statement.

He slammed the company's "misrepresentations," saying it withheld crucial information on the vaccines' health risks. 

Dengvaxia was administered to over 800,000 students in a school-based government immunization program in April 2016.

Sanofi Pasteur in November 2017 announced the vaccine had potentially severe dengue risks among those with no dengue history.

The resulting panic prompted the Health Department to suspend its program and the Senate to investigate the P3.5 billion spent on it.

Sanofi Pasteur also turned down the Health Department's demand to refund used dengue vaccine vials on February 5. It said agreeing to the demand will mean Dengvaxia does not work.

It reiterated the vaccine remains beneficial for those previously infected.

In January, Sanofi refunded P1.16 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia dengue vaccines, saying it was to show its commitment to cooperate with Health officials.