Gov’t urged to demand refund for risky dengue vaccines

MANILA -- Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday urged the government to demand refund for the PHP3.5 billion paid to French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur for the release of dengue vaccines which were later said to pose risks for people who have not been previously infected by the virus.

Recto made this remark noting that under the Procurement Law or Republic Act 9184, Sanofi is duty-bound to reimburse the government because all government purchases are mandatorily covered by warranty.

This is our prescription for Sanofi, give us our refund, Recto said in a press statement.

"RA 9184 has an anti-lemon provision. It is discussed extensively in Section 62, which deals with faulty, defective substandard goods and services. The bottom line is that the government is entitled to restitution," he added.

Recto further pointed out that the law even requires the supplier to post retention money which the government shall hold on to until the warranty has lapsed, to ensure that goods supplied are free from defects.

He said that this is a standard clause in government contracts. Moreover, the "no return, no exchange policy" does not apply to government purchases.

Under RA 9184, even official supplies, car parts, appliances bought for government must pass the quality test.

Recto noted that many corporations have been paying huge fines upon orders of regulatory bodies, "a path Sanofi should follow if it wants to retain public goodwill."

He mentioned some companies such as Uber, Metrobank, RCBC, PAL as some companies which have willingly paid a fine, or settled obligations, for operational oversights committed.

Fair probe

Meanwhile, senators belonging to the Liberal Party (LP) urged the government to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the failed dengue vaccine program.

We support calls for investigation of this issue as thousands of children's lives are at stake here. We must ensure that the investigation will not be selective and will cover all periods of implementation of the program, LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan said in a press statement.

It may be recalled that the dengue vaccination program was implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) during the last year of the Aquino administration and continued by the Duterte government, upon the recommendation of the new DOH leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon and Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV both asked the government to monitor the status of students who received the initial dose of the vaccine and ensure their safety.

The dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, was licensed for use in the Philippines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2015.

DOH earlier confirmed that it has administered the dengue vaccine to hundreds of thousands of school children in Central Luzon, NCR, and Calabarzon.

To date, the DOH has stopped its implementation.

Source: Philippine News Agency