By Ralph Villanueva/Manila Times
Malacanang yesterday said appropriate charges would be slapped on those responsible for the mass vaccination involving the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
This came a day after the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) said it was studying upgrading the Dengvaxia complaints from reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide to murder.
It also came a week after 10 new Dengvaxia complaints were filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against Health Secretary Francisco Duque, his predecessor Janette Garin and several others in connection with Dengvaxia-related deaths.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Executive branch had “taken forceful action” on the issue.
“Appropriate charges will be lodged and pursued against government officials and private individuals found responsible by the DoJ for this failed health programme for children,” Panelo said.
He added that the DoJ was expected to come up with a resolution before November ends.
“The President (Rodrigo Duterte) is monitoring the issues surrounding the anti-dengue vaccine called Dengvaxia. He hears all the calls for justice of families of children whose deaths are reportedly caused by the said vaccine,” the spokesman said.
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, yesterday, assisted family members of 10 alleged victims of the vaccine in filing 10 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, torture, and violations of the Consumer Protection Act (Republic Act 7394), particularly provisions on “defective products” and “mislabelled products,” against Duque, Garin, other health officials, and officials and personnel of vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur and distributor Zuellig Pharma.
The implementation of the Dengvaxia mass vaccination affected 800,000 school children.
Earlier this year, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc, filed charges at the DoJ against Garin, former president Benigno Aquino and former Budget secretary Florencio Abad for their alleged involvement in the purchase of P3.5bn worth of Dengvaxia.
They were charged with technical malversation for conspiring to unlawfully effect the release of savings from the fiscal year 2015 Mutual Benefit Personnel Fund and use the same to augment the anti-dengue immunisation programme, as well as multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence under the Revised Penal Code.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meanwhile has accepted a Biologics License Application for Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine, a statement from Sanofi sent to media said.
According to the statement, the dengue vaccine candidate has been granted priority review by the US FDA, as it would represent the first and only medical prevention tool against dengue, including severe dengue, which is considered an unmet medical need.
The US FDA set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act action date of May 1, 2019.
Dengue is endemic in the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. In 2010, Puerto Rico experienced the largest outbreak when more than 12,000 cases were confirmed. Incidence remained high in subsequent years, particularly in 2012 and 2013.
Dengue represents a health and economic burden in Puerto Rico with total annual associated costs reaching an estimated $160.2mn, the statement added.
“Sanofi is committed to reducing the global burden of dengue,” said David Greenberg, Regional Medical Head North America, Sanofi Pasteur.
“The vaccine has been evaluated in studies involving more than 40,000 people from 15 countries around the world with up to six years of follow-up data from large-scale investigations that included Puerto Rico as a study site.”
People can get dengue up to four times and dengue is unique in that the second infection tends to be worse than the first.
The statement said prevention of re-infection with another dengue serotype can help to reduce the individual risk of severe dengue, as well as the overall healthcare costs associated with hospitalisation due to dengue.
The European Commission is expected to grant marketing authorisation for Dengvaxia in December 2018, the statement said.
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