Solons want refund used on Dengvaxia recipients

By Inquirer.net April 15,2018

Two members of the House of Representatives have filed joint resolutions seeking to allocate the P1.16-billion refunded by dengue vaccine manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur to the monitoring of 870,000 recipients and the autopsies of those who died allegedly due to the vaccine.

Deputy Majority Leader Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, filed House Joint Resolutions Nos. 20 and 21, respectively.

The nearly similar resolutions are seeking the release of the refund to the Department of Health for its medical assistance program for the recipients of the Dengvaxia vaccine, most of them public schoolchildren.

The two lawmakers proposed that the DOH should shoulder “all expenses incurred by in-patient checkups,” or those who stayed in the hospital for medical attention.

The resolution also seeks to allocate the refund for out-patient examinations, such as diagnostic and confirmatory laboratory tests, and medicines prescribed “after a positive confirmation of negative effects of the Dengvaxia vaccine.”

The amount will also be used for “vaccine injury compensation” and reimbursement of hospitalization expenses.

It will also be used for the costs of the autopsies of deaths allegedly caused by the vaccine and the deployment of “health education and promotion officers” and the distribution of medical kits.

Both resolutions propose that the appropriations be authorized until December 31, 2018, with the funds needed for the program’s continued implementation coming from the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

The Department of Health and the Department (DOH) of Budget and Management (DBM) will be required to submit detailed reports to the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance.

Sanofi-Pasteur only agreed to refund the cost of vaccines which were not administered after the government halted the immunization program in December, following the discovery that the vaccine could increase the risk of serious infection in those who received the vaccine without having been exposed to dengue before.

Last February 5, the pharmaceutical giant rejected the DOH’s demand for a refund of the remaining P1.8 billion, the cost of the used vaccines, because doing so would “imply the product is ineffective (and) does not provide the effect provided, which is not the case.”

Sanofi-Pasteur insisted the benefit of the vaccine – protection against more serious future infections in recipients who already had prior exposure to dengue – outweighed the risks.

Last February, the Philippine General Hospital announced that so far, three of 14 examined deaths could have “causal association” to the vaccine.

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