Philippines to seek refund, sue Sanofi over dengue vaccine: Health Minister

Dr. Jaime Bernadas DOH-Central Visayas director

Regulators froze the Philippines' world-first public dengue immunisation programme last week and suspended all sales of the vaccine on Monday after Sanofi said Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated people who contracted the disease for the first time.

Public health experts found the whole process "rushed", as it took only less than 6 months for the Philippine government to approve its use - from Aquino's meeting with Sanofi's executives in December 2015 to the arrival of Dengvaxia's first doses in February 2016, to the vaccination program's launch in April 2016.

The best course of action is still a combination of eradicating the sources of mosquitoes including stagnant water and preventing mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent products because these are seen as very effective measures against not only dengue but also other mosquito-borne diseases including Zika, he said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is determined to hold Sanofi Pasteur accountable now that its dengue vaccine has proven to pose risks for those who have been vaccinated but had not been previously infected by the virus. The symptoms are straddling between grade 2 and 3 types of dengue...

However, Ng does not recommend the vaccine for those who have never been infected with dengue virus.

World Health Organization has advised "anyone (vaccinated or not) with signs of dengue disease - high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands and/or rash - to seek medical care".

Meanwhile, a public body close to France's health ministry past year advised against the use of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine in the country's overseas territories now at the center of a health scare, regulatory documents have shown. The WHO, for its part, has advised that, pending a full study on its safety and efficacy, the vaccine should only be rolled out in populations with a high prevalence of dengue infection.

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"As always, we stand ready to work with the DOH to provide information to affected families and to support the DOH's deliberations on the future of the dengue vaccination program", the agency said.

She added that dengue infection can be hard to discern, as the majority of infected individuals show no symptoms.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Gordon questioned the swift approval by the Philippine government of the distribution of Dengvaxia to dengue patients and would like to know the people who authorized the use of the vaccine.

He also would demand that Sanofi set up an indemnity fund for vaccinated children who would later be hospitalized due to dengue.

Concerns surrounding the vaccine, sold by French drugmaker Sanofi, have prompted the Philippines to halt its sale and suspend a government program to immunize hundreds of thousands of children.

Since 2016, more than 700,000 Filipino children have received Dengvaxia for free under the DOH's school-based immunization program, after the vaccine was licensed by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.



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