MANILA – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has assured that those responsible for the dengue vaccine mess would be held accountable.

"Once it is proven that there were information that were not fully disclosed but were factors in these latest developments, someone will surely be held accountable," Duque said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

The health chief was referring to the recent disclosure by Sanofi Pasteur that its Dengvaxia vaccine, which had been administered to more than 700,000 public school children under a health department immunization program, was found to cause a severe case of the disease among recipients who had not contracted dengue before getting the vaccine.

Duque said cases would be filed against those found liable, once the department completes its probe.

He said their legal service department was also looking into the contract between the Department of Health (DOH) and Sanofi to check the legal implications of the controversy.

Duque said even private individuals could file class action suits against those whom they believe should be held accountable.

"I heard there were already those planning to file class suits in behalf of the children who have been vaccinated and their worried parents," he related.

The National Bureau of Investigation has already been ordered to probe the dengue vaccine controversy.

Duque further said they were pushing for the return of the PHP3.5-billion public fund spent to procure the vaccines from Sanofi.

"Probably, we can ask Sanofi to refund the whole PHP3.5 billion and we will just return the remaining vaccines we still have in storage," he said, noting that they had a stockpile of about PHP1.4 billion worth of dengue vaccines.

The vaccines, stored at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, are set to expire between 2018 and 2019.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday suspended the sale, distribution, and marketing of Dengvaxia in the country “in order to protect the general public”.

In its Advisory No. 2017-318 signed by FDA director general, Nela Charade G. Puno, the agency also directed Sanofi to conduct an information campaign “through Advisories, Dear Doctor Letters, and Patient fora”.

"The FDA is closely coordinating with the Department of Health for any adverse events/reactions that may be reported by the recipients following their immunization of Dengvaxia, and will immediately take appropriate measures to protect the public,” it added.

The FDA likewise encouraged all drug establishments, as well as consumers and non-consumer users, such as health care professionals, to take part in the post-marketing surveillance of Dengvaxia by reporting to the FDA any incident that indicates that “Dengvaxia has caused or contributed to the death, serious illness, or serious injury to a consumer, a patient, or any person”. (PNA/Photo courtesy of WHO)