Former DOH execs on fault-finding over Dengvaxia | Malaya Business Insight

Lopez, J. (2018, January 23). Former DOH execs on fault-finding over Dengvaxia. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved January 23, 2018 from

Former DOH execs on fault-finding over Dengvaxia
January 23, 2018

FORMER Health Secretary Enrique Ona yesterday said the Department of Health (DOH) under the leadership of then secretary Janette Garin should not have implemented the dengue vaccination program because of issues surrounding the Dengvaxia vaccine.

At the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the P3.5-billion procurement of the dengue vaccines, Ona said the DOH leadership in 2014 is responsible for the “major health nightmare” the country is facing.

Janette Garin took over the DOH after Ona resigned in 2014.

Ona said he did not allocate funding for dengue vaccines for 2015 because Dengvaxia was still undergoing evaluation and trial.

He cited a 2015 article published by the New England Journal of Medicine which said “the efficacy profile (of the vaccine) at 25 months surveillance was complex.”

Ona said the editorial featured on the same journal titled “A Candidate Dengue Vaccine Walks a Tightrope” by Cameron P. Simmons, Ph.D. which, it read by any expert in infectious diseases or public health, “would have made one wait for more follow up studies to further evaluate the safety and efficacy, sans cost.”

It was obvious Dengvaxia was not ready for distribution, he said.

He said during his four-year stint at the DOH, vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur briefed him on a yearly basis on the status of the clinical trial that was conducted by the pharmaceutical firm in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, and in the other countries in South America.

However, Ona said during the trial and until he left the DOH, Sanofi Pasteur never claimed the vaccine was ready for general use and only gave vague projections on the clinical trials.

“In light of this Sanofi Pasteur advisory on the use of anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, the leadership that took over the DOH after I left in December 20, 2014 are solely responsible for all the decisions that has resulted in what was becoming to be a major health nightmare in the country,” Ona said.

Sanofi in November 2017 issued a statement admitting that Dengvaxia could increase the risk of severe dengue on individuals who have not been previously infected by the disease.

Sanofi has been fined P100,000 while Dengvaxia’s certificate of product registration was suspended by the Food and Drug Administration.

Sanofi has also agreed to reimburse the Philippine government for the P1.4 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia vaccines.

Garin maintained that the decision to roll out Dengvaxia was not done in haste, and it was shown by the integrity management committee convened by then Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.

She added that even the World Health Organization, in its interim report released in December 2017, answered all the issues on safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“We did our decision based on the documents, the data available that time. We did it because dengue was a problem,” Garin added.

Garin also denied that she had direct access to then President Benigno Aquino III when she was still an undersecretary.

Garin said Ona assigned her in charge of the Department’s Legislative Liaison Office. “That’s policy matters and legislation, that’s Congress [House of Representatives] and Senate po, hindi po Congress and Malacañang,” Garin said.

Also during the hearing, Mario Baquilod of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau-Office of Technical Services (DPCB-OTS) of the DOH said Rosalind Vianzon, the dengue program manager at the time of the purchase, recommended to him the use of the dengue vaccine.

This prompted him to submit the justification paper to DPCB OTS Director Dr. Joyce Ducusin for the exemption of Dengvaxia from FEC assessment.

Baquilod said he did not recall anyone advising him against Dengvaxia and admitted that he recommended the inclusion of Dengvaxia into the dengue prevention and control program in 2015.

Thomas Triomphe, head of Sanofi Pasteur’s Asia Pacific region office, agreed to shoulder the cost of any death of dengue victims if proven to be “causally-related” to the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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