MANILA, Philippines — Health advocates and experts had cautioned former Health Secretary Janette Garin over the safety of Dengvaxia but their warnings were ignored, a health reform advocate said Tuesday.
Dr. Anthony Leachon, former member of the Department of Health Expert Panel on Dengue, said that experts questioned the “premature” mass vaccination in 2016, citing that its safety and cost-effectiveness had not been established.
Leachon, in an interview on ANC, said that the introduction of the dengue vaccine should have been done on a controlled scale.
“When you launch a product, it will be exposed to about 10,000 to 20,000 kids and doctors will supervise so they can report side effects,” he said, noting it usually takes three years to prepare a community for a new vaccine.
“[But they proceeded with] mass vaccination. Safety issues were alerted by health advocates and scientists in the country but you ignored that,” Leachon said.
DOH suspended the mass immunization program on December 1, shortly after manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur disclosed it had found in post-trial tests that the vaccine poses a threat to those who had no prior dengue infection.
More than 860,000 people have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia. Over 830,000 children were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in schools and communities, while another 32,000 people were immunized in private hospitals.
Leachon said that Dr. Hilton Lam of the Formulary Executive Council conducted a cost-effectiveness study of the vaccine and found that it should be P655 per dose. The government sold it at P1,000 per dose.
“We thought it was bloated a little bit because the study did not consider potential side effects of the drug,” Leachon said.
He added that Dengvaxia is more expensive in the Philippines than in other countries.
During the Senate probe into the questionable purchase of the P3.5 billion worth of vaccines, Garin said that the country purchased the vaccine at a lower price ($20 per dose) than Brazil ($30 per dose).
Leachon, moreover, said that Garin and former president Benigno Aquino III should be held accountable.
“Any problem of this magnitude stops at the highest point of leadership at the Department of Health. Now of this particular magnitude where 800,000 kids [are affected], then the buck stops at the level of the office of the president,” he said.
Garin insisted that there was no corruption involved in the purchase of the dengue vaccines and that it was not hastily implemented.
“It’s not a midnight deal. Everything was above board,” she said.
She added that the decision to procure Dengvaxia was not a personal decision, but an “institutional decision.”
“We decided based on the data available at the time with the desire to fight dengue,” Garin said.
By Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) December 12, 2017
RELATED ARTICLE: https://balitangbalita.com/2017/12/11/sanofi-dengue-vaccine-php-3-5-billion-scam-ex-president-aquino-and-former-doh-secretary-garin-liable/
At the Senate investigation on the PHP 3.5 Billion Sanofi Dengue Vaccine SCAM, it was established that the experimental vaccine had not yet completed the Phase 4 stage (controlled launch or scaled down implementation) usually in the ten to twenty thousand beneficiary level and needing one to two years to complete so as to monitor possible ADVERSE EFFECTS or REACTIONS. Instead the roll out was made to more than 700,000 grade four students (out of a planned one million ten year olds).
Former Secretary of Health Ubial, who stopped the program stated that it is bad practice to do a massive public mobilization and vaccination using a new product in an election year. Health experts were unanimous that there was a RUSH to PURCHASE, specifically prodded by then President Aquino and then Health Secretary Garin. P-Noy met with Sanofi officials (for the second time) in December 2015 and it was also in the same month that the Food and Drug Administration (under the Department of Health) approved Sanofi’s Dengvaxia. President Aquino issued a memorandum order to the DBM to use personnel savings (from the Philippine budget) to fund the vaccine purchase. By the end of the month the Department of Budget Management (DBM under then Secretary Abad) had issued a S.A.R.O. (special allotment release order).
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Senator Richard Gordon will look into the possible VIOLATION by President Aquino in the use of a S.A.R.O. to secure funding when a supplemental budget (though the House of Representatives and the Senate) route should have been the way to go.
Senator Gordon also cited a number of resolved cases where Sanofi officials were found guilty of BRIBERY in Germany and fined FORTY MILLION U. S. dollars. In the United States, Sanofi officials were fined ONE HUNDRED NINE MILLION U.S. dollars also for BRIBERY.
The current stage of the Senate investigation is focused on the SAFETY issues of the Sanofi Dengue vaccine. The next stage would tackle the financial aspects of the deal, specifically the bidding process (when the Formulary had not yet issued a certification), the HIGH COST of the product, the use of a single supplier, conflict of interest (in the FDA, FEC and the DOH where members used to work for international pharmaceutical firms) plus the issue on whether baseline serological tests should have been done prior to administering the vaccine (which was scrapped due to high costs). Next Committee meeting will look into the LEGAL ASPECTS of ACCOUNTABILITY (on whether the vaccination program was pushed through for propaganda purposes (for the 2016 national elections) and/or to generate FINANCIAL RESOURCES for election purposes or personal gain. Ex President Aquino was SPECIFICALLY named.
Senator Gordon mentioned that a witness branded the vaccination program as a BETRAYAL of the Filipino people, with kids being used as GUINEA PIGS or LABORATORY RATS.
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