A French pharmaceutical firm Monday rejected a Philippine government demand to fully refund about 3.2 billion pesos (U.S. $62 million) paid for a dengue vaccine found to be potentially hazardous and that health officials said could be linked to the deaths of three schoolchildren.
Sanofi Pasteur had already reimbursed Manila for unused doses of Dengvaxia in its inventory amounting to about 1.4 billion pesos ($27 million), or less than half of what the government had spent on the vaccine, Thomas Triomphe, the pharma giant’s Asia Pacific director, told a Philippine congressional inquiry.
He said the buyback was meant to show Sanofi’s commitment to the Philippines, the first country in Asia to approve the use of Dengvaxia against the mosquito-borne disease that infects about 200,000 Filipinos every year.
“I would like to stress that this has nothing to do with the safety and quality concern of the product, which there is none,” Triomphe told lawmakers.
Triomphe acknowledged replying to a demand letter from Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Monday morning.
“With all due respect, we decided to refuse the proposal of the secretary of health to actually reimburse the used doses,” he said.
Doing so would “imply that the product is ineffective,” Triomphe said, emphasizing that the drug was safe for public use.
“We stand, as previously mentioned, behind the efficacy and safety of the product and that is why we are not reimbursing the already-used doses,” he said. “In addition, we do believe that doing so will create confusion in the minds of the population where the parents of the kids who have been immunized completely [will have] the wrong impression of the efficacy of the product.”
“So we decline this request, your honor,” he told the congressional inquiry.
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