The Department of Health (DOH) is considering filing charges against pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur over the Dengvaxia controversy, a health official said Monday.
This, after Sanofi declined a demand from the Philippine government to fully refund the P3.5 billion spent on its anti-dengue vaccine on top of damages.
Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said the government will take the legal route to get its money back from Sanofi.
"Sanofi already reimbursed P 1.116 billion, the unused ones, but we are now demanding P1.6-B for the ones that were used because when they sold it to us they didn't tell us that there's a warning that we could not use it on seronegative individuals and now we want them to bring the money back and if they are not going to return it, we are now strengthening our case. We have to get the legal route to get that money back," he told ANC.
Domingo said the health department is already coordinating with the Department of Justice to work on its next move.
"The Cabinet and secretary of health are meeting with the secretary of justice so we can cooperate and put our efforts together and it will take some time because we need to do some more tests particularly on children who died from dengue after receiving Dengvaxia. But it will take quite a few weeks or a month before we can file any cases," he explained.
He added the government is now investigating the deaths linked to the vaccine.
"With the findings of the PGH (Philippine General Hospital) expert panel, they found at least three of the children died from dengue after being vaccinated by Dengvaxia and that there are another six children who died from different illnesses within 30 days of the vaccine. We want also to clarify if there's a connection between the vaccine and the deaths. We just have to do more testings and analysis of tissue samples and maybe once we get more evidence then that would be enough to file a case," Domingo said.
Meanwhile, the health department is still looking into reports of an increase in the number of dengue cases in Pangasinan.
"The regional office is going there to check if there is an outbreak because once there is an outbreak we have to mobilize our emergency teams. They have to do vector control, they have to do some fogging and then of course more importantly, we have to prepare our hospitals. We just had a meeting with the Red Cross over the weekend, and we're setting up all of the systems ready just in case we do have an increase in the dengue cases," Domingo said.
Over 500 suspected cases of dengue were recorded in the province of Pangasinan since January 1.
Among the towns placed in the dengue watch list are Urdaneta City, Binmaley, Santa Barbara, Lingayen, Mangaldan, Binalonan, Pozzorubio, Asingan, San Carlos City and Bayambang.
Local health officials advised residents to maintain cleanliness in their surroundings to prevent the spread of illnesses.