MANILA A party-list lawmaker on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to start the blacklisting procedure against French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
In a press conference, Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe suggested the blacklisting of Sanofi after it refused to fully refund the PHP3.5 billion spent on Dengvaxia vaccines.
Batocabe said once the procedure takes place, both parties could present their cases on whether or not the Dengvaxia vaccine was directly responsible for the reported deaths of children.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Enrique Domingo earlier said three cases of the 14 examined deaths had "causal association" to the Dengvaxia vaccine.
"DOH, start the blacklisting procedure of Sanofi. Doon nila ipatunay na wala silang kinalaman o may kilanaman dito sa Dengvaxia (They could prove in it if they are liable or not for the Dengvaxia mess)," Batocabe said.
"Start the procedure kung paano sila papanagutin (Start the procedure on how to make Sanofi accountable)," he added.
Batocabe said blacklisting the foreign drug firm from government procurement activities could have a huge impact on Sanofi in the international scene.
"Pag isang gobyerno ang nagblacklist sa kanila, para itong balita sa buong mundo na blinacklist sila sa Pilipinas. Mas malaking epekto po ito sa kanila (If a government includes them on its blacklist, it would be news to the world that they were blacklisted in the Philippines. It would have a huge impact for them)," he said.
Earlier in the day, Sanofi declined the government's demand to fully refund the PHP3.5 billion spent on Dengvaxia, noting that agreeing to refund the used doses "would imply that the vaccine is ineffective, which is not the case."
Sanofi had already reimbursed to DOH the amount of PHP1.16-billion for the unused doses of Dengvaxia.
Under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and Health Secretary Janet Garin, the Philippines became the first country in the world to launch a public inoculation plan against dengue using Dengvaxia.
The DOH has since suspended the anti-dengue immunization drive, after Sanofi said Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated children who contracted the disease for the first time.
More than 700,000 Filipino schoolchildren had already received their Dengvaxia shots by the time the DOH suspended the immunization drive. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency