Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday challenged Sanofi Pasteur to provide compensation to the children affected by the Dengvaxia vaccine over and above its plan to reimburse the Philippine government the cost of the unused vaccine.

In a statement, Hontiveros said that while she welcomes the French pharmaceutical company's move to reimburse the cost of the unused doses of Dengvaxia, she asserted that the ethical response is for Sanofi to do more.

"Reimbursement is not enough. Over and above its plan to pay back the government for unused Dengvaxia vials, I call on Sanofi to shoulder the health needs of the affected children and compensate their families. Even pending the result of the evaluation by medical experts on whether or not the deaths were caused by Dengvaxia, it is clear that Sanofi, of its own admission, is guilty of implementing an immunization program that could do more harm than good to our children," Hontiveros said.

"Sanofi should bear all the legal and ethical responsibilities that have resulted from the firm's negligence. The cost after all, is more than just money. There was clear negligence, and the responsible thing to do is for Sanofi to see to the health needs of the affected and compensate their families for the harm they have caused. Regaining the trust of the public is a far more important investment," Hontiveros added.

Based on new analysis of clinical data on Dengvaxia, Sanofi admitted that for those who were not previously infected by dengue virus, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection. It said that the vaccine only provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection.

It was reported that the Philippin implemented a national school-based, anti-Dengue Immunization Program in 2016 using Dengvaxia. Over 700,000 Grade 4 students (at least 9 years old) in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region have been given the dengue vaccine. Of the total number, health officials said that 70,000 are at risk.

Under the Duterte administration, the program was expanded to Region 7. Children aged nine to 14 in Cebu province were administered the first dose of the vaccine.

After lawmakers launched a legislative inquiry into the matter, the drug manufacturer Sanofi said that it will pay back the Philippine government for the unused doses of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which the Department of Health requested.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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