FEBRUARY 21, 2020 – State prosecutors have found probable cause to file a graft case against a former health chief and several others over the deaths of eight children who got vaccinated by the anti-dengue drug, the justice department said on Friday.
In a statement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said there was sufficient evidence to indict Iloilo Congresswoman Janette Garin for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, as well as other officials of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur Inc. was also not spared as the manufacturer of the Dengvaxia vaccine which was blamed for the deaths of the children.
“The panel found that there was inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of Garin and other respondent government officials in the fast-tracking of the procurement process for the Dengvaxia vaccine despite being aware of its low efficacy results and potential risks associated with its use,” said the prosecutors’ resolution.
“The panel also found that respondent government officials were reckless when they allowed the purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine despite red flags already known to them,” it added.
In 2016, Garin who was health secretary under the previous administration, led a P3.5-billion dengue immunization program to selected Grade 4 public school students in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON which reported a high number of dengue cases.
But the government stopped giving vaccines after Sanofi cited new studies about its health risks.
In 2019, the FDA permanently revoked Dengvaxia’s certificates of product registration, following the deaths of some vaccinated patients and a congressional probe into the failed immunization program.
“The respondents failed to fully informed the Dengvaxia recipients, and their parents/families, of the nature and risks of the vaccine,” the DOJ said citing the prosecutors’ findings. “Thus, they failed to obtain the informed consent of its recipients.”
The state prosecutors also will file additional charges against the president of Sanofi and four of its officers for violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
The prosecutors said it found that Sanofi indirectly admitted the Dengvaxia is a defective product.
The vaccine was also a prescription drug but was not dispensed under the supervision of a licensed practitioner or upon written prescription.
The vaccine was also a prescription drug but was not dispensed under the supervision of a licensed practitioner or upon written prescription. (Karen Macalalad/MM)
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