MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) remains firm in its desire to have a full refund of the money paid for the "used" Dengvaxia vaccine by invoking certain provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
According to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, such intention for full refund was contained in his latest letter to Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of Dengvaxia which was used in the school-based and community based immunized that were subject of continuing controversy.
“So meron na naman akong panibagong sulat telling them I am invoking the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines. There is a provision there that says kung 'yung produktong sinabi ninyo, 'yung binigay ninyo ay maayos eh 'di naman pala ganoon na as you claimed, kung nalaman lang ng gobyerno 'yun, malamang 'di sila pumayag doon sa presyo na binigay ninyo doon sa produktong 'yun. Or puwedeng binawasan or puwede 'di na tuluyan na binili kung nagkaroon sila ng full disclosure patungkol sa kanilang bakuna (So I have a new letter telling them I am invoking the provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines. There is a provision there that says the government wouldn't have agreed to the price they set if they only admitted the supposed effects of the product were untrue. Or the government would buy fewer doses or would not buy the vaccine at all if there were a full disclosure on the vaccine),” Duque said.
Duque added that the agency had earlier convey that desire to the company.
He said they were aware also that the company, through Sanofi Asia Pacific head Thomas Triomphe, had refused the said demand.
"Somehow di naman nila shinu-shut completely. Sinasabi lang nila antimano, kung papayag daw sila na ibalik ang halaga ng mga nagamit na bakuna parang pagsasabi yun na ang bakuna nila ay di effective. So yan ang concern nila na baka humantong sa ganun (Somehow they are not shutting the doors completely. What they were saying is that if they will agree to refund the full fees for the said vaccine, that can be interepreted as an admittance that the vaccine used was not effective. So that was their concern. That things can come to that point),” the Health official said.
He said based on his observation, the company's refusal also can be interpreted to strenghthen its defense in the event that cases were filed against them.
"At syempre may malaking posibilidad na in the end baka magkaron ng kaso/litigation, yun, di sila gagawa or papayag sa mga bagay-bagay na pwedeng magpahina dun sa kanilang position which is understandable," he further said.
He added that they would consult with their lawyers and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to represent them in their desire for full refund.
It can be recalled that during a recent senate hearing, Triomphe reasoned-out that returning the full amount to the Philippine government would "create confusion into the mind of the population, of the parents who have kids who have been immunized.
"It would give a wrong impression of the efficacy of the product," the Sanofi Official said during the hearing.
Earlier, the DOH had received the refund for the "unused" Dengvaxia vaccine after it wrote a letter to the company citing that it wanted the refund for said unused vaccine after they decided to discontinue the program last December 2017.
As a result, over PHP 1.1 billion was refunded by the company to the government after unused vials of the said vaccine were pulled-out from DOH storage facilities.
The decision to stop the immunization program was in reaction to the announcement made by the company regarding the new findings that Dengvaxia may lead a person to develop severe dengue if he or she had not been infected by the virus before immunization.
There were more than 800,000 children were vaccinated in the dengue immunization program funded before the 2016 election.
The timing also of the immunization and the supposed haste of implementation through mass immunization were also being questioned.
The immunization program started at the time of former Secretary Janette L. Garin and was decided to be continued by former Secretary Paulyn Ubial who had admitted in previous hearings that she had attempted to discontinue the vaccination but later decided to continue upon pressure to her as Health Official.
On November 29, 2017, Sanofi then made an announcement that the new findings revealed those vaccinated who had no previous dengue infection may develop severe dengue.
Th e DOH then through current Health Chief Duque suspended the immunization program.
The Food and Drug Administration also ordered the removal and distribution of Dengvaxia in the market. (PNA)