Gov’t to sue Sanofi; may ask French pharma company for refund


The government intends to sue Sanofi after authorities suspended the pharmaceutical giant’s anti-dengue vaccine in response to the company warning the drug could lead to severe infections in some cases, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Thursday.

“Eventually it’s the court of law that is going to decide in so far as the liability of Sanofi is concerned,” Duque said in a television interview.

Duque said he may ask Sanofi to refund 1.4 billion pesos ($27.6 million) worth of unused Dengvaxia supplies, noting also that Sanofi’s recent statements on the vaccine were “confusing.”

He added the government might also demand that Sanofi set up an “indemnity fund” to cover the hospitalization cost for children vaccinated under the public program who would fall ill.

About 830,000 schoolchildren received at least one dose of the vaccine, Duque said.

Previously the government said more than 733,000 people had been vaccinated.

“If it’s found out that (Sanofi) withheld material information that would have changed the outcome of all of these problems and the decision makers of the Department of Health in the previous administration, then they are liable,” Duque added.

He said Senate hearings into the issue would start next week.

Sanofi was not immediately available to comment on Duque’s remarks.

Regulators froze the Philippines’ world-first public dengue immunization program last week and suspended all sales of the vaccine on Monday after Sanofi said Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated people who contracted the disease for the first time.

The previous administration of president Benigno Aquino III launched the vaccination program last year, making the Philippines the first nation to use Dengvaxia on a mass scale.

The French company on Monday said  Dengvaxia would not cause anyone who was immunized to die and would not cause a dengue infection. (Agence France Presse)