Sanofi won’t reimburse used Dengvaxia shots, maintains drug is safe

anofi Pasteur isn’t amenable to reimbursing the Philippines government the cost of the used Dengvaxia vaccines that were purchased during the previous administration.

This was bared by Thomas Triomphe, Asia-Pacific head of Sanofi Pasteur, during a joint probe by the Committees on Good Government and Public Accountability and Health Monday.

“With all due respect we decided to refuse to actually reimburse the used doses,” Triomphe told the joint panel.

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque bared during the same hearing that he earlier wrote the French pharmaceutical firm and asked it to pay back some P1.8 billion to cover for the used doses of Dengvaxia.

Sanofi explained in detail its decision to decline the Health department’s request in a statement released on the same day.

“Agreeing to refund the used doses of Dengvaxia® would imply that the vaccine is ineffective, which is not the case,” it said.

“The data remains quite clear that, in absolute terms, dengue vaccination in the Philippines will provide a net reduction in dengue disease, including severe dengue and, thereby, reduce the overall public health burden associated with this disease,” added Sanofi.

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In April 2016 or during the final months of the Aquino administration, the Philippine government launched a P3.5-billion vaccination drive gainst dengue using Dengvaxia. However, in November 2017, Sanofi cited the results of a study saying that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated children who contracted the disease for the first time.

The DOH subsequently suspended the use of Dengvaxia, but some 837,000 school children have already been inoculated with it.

In the same statement, Sanofi also appeared to thumb down a previous request from Duque to set up an indemnity fund for would-be victims of the drug.

“As for the indemnification fund, there are no safety or quality concerns about the Dengvaxia® vaccine,” it said.

Duque said during the joint hearing that “legal action” is an option following Sanofi’s refusal to reimburse the P1.8 billion worth of used Dengvaxia.

“It’s an option your honor but we will defer to our task force of the DOH,” he said.

Kathy Kenny

EIC

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