Karlo eyes added budget from P1B Sanofi refund

House Appropriations Committee Chair Davao City Congressman Karlo Nograles has filed a bill, which would allot a special P1.16 Billion fund to assist the children who were administered with the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.

Nograles said the allocation would come from the refund representing some P1.16 Billion worth of unused vials, which was returned by the government to Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur through its local distributor Zuellig Pharma.

Nograles said the P1.16 Billion supplemental budget will be used to fund the much needed medical support for the children who were administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine such as medical assistance for hospitalization, medical kits, out-patient care services, including laboratory tests, among others.

“This will ensure prompt and pinpointed delivery of necessary medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccinees even as the Department of Health (DOH) continue to monitor their state in the months following their inoculation. Also, this is to allay the fears of the public on the purported effects of Dengvaxia and to prevent further deaths and illnesses of those administered with the vaccine,” Nograles said.

“Regardless of the cause of these deaths and illnesses, it is incumbent upon the State to intervene by providing assistance to those who were administered with the vaccine. This is in line with the State’s policy of protecting and promoting the right to health of the people,” he added.

Dengvaxia, a relatively new drug manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, was used in a P3-billion mass anti-dengue vaccination program during the tail end of the Aquino administration in April 2016. This made the Philippines the first country in the world to do so.

Then, in November 2017, the French pharmaceutical firm released results of its long-term follow-up study which showed that Dengvaxia gave an increased risk in those who are seronegative or not yet infected with dengue at the time of first vaccinate.

At this point, over 830,000 Filipino school children have already been given Dengvaxia shots. From this figure, at least 39 kids have already died, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III told a joint House panel last February 26.

Facing allegations of negligence and even corruption, the Department of Health suspended the administration of Dengvaxia and upon the demand of the government, Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of the Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, refunded the amount of around P 1.16 Billion covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.

In his bill, Nograles said the P1.16 Billion fund would be appropriated to fund the assistance to the Dengvaxia vaccinees, which amount shall be used exclusively for the following activities and/or projects, namely: (a) Human Resource for Health (HRH) Deployment; (b) Public Health Management; and (c) Assistance to Indigent Patients either Confined or Out-Patient in Government Hospitals/ Specialty Hospitals / LGU Hospitals / Philippine General Hospital / West Visayas State University Hospital.(House of Representatives)