The Department of Health now wants French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur to refund the full amount spent by the Philippine government to buy Dengvaxia, the first anti dengue vaccine.

In a letter addressed to Thomas Triumphe, Sanofi Pasteur Asia-Pacific head, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has asked for nearly Php 2 billion in refund, to cover what the Health department spent to purchase the vaccine.

The demand for full refund was decided on the basis that the supposed effect of the vaccine "wasn't there... wasn't felt, Secretary Duque said.

Following a meeting where instructions were given out to DOH Regional Directors, the Health chief announced “We already sent the letter for the refund of the used vaccines because the purported protection wasn’t felt, wasn’t there.”

“In fact they withdrew the label. They did a relabeling because they said you can no longer use this for seronegative children who never had past dengue infection,” he added.

Earlier, the DOH had sought for a refund of just Php 1.4 billion, corresponding to the unused Dengvaxia vials, following the order to suspend the mass dengue vaccination program.

Sanofi agreed to the first refund and went to retrieve the stocks of unused vaccine vials from DOH warehouses.

Secretary Duque instructed the regional directors and chiefs of DOH hospitals on how to monitor and manage cases of children inoculated with the dengue vaccine.

Meanwhile, he assured the hospitalization costs of vaccinated children will be shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

In a recent visit to a Pampanga school, the DOH, led by Secretary Duque, started giving away dengue vaccine identification cards (IDs) to inoculated children and their parents, saying the IDs will enable them to seek priority medical care. One hundred fifty IDs were given to children and mothers initially in the province.

In addition, Secretary Duque also expressed his plan of legislative reforms seeking independence for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and naming the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) as the official research arm of the department. MIMS