France advised against Sanofi's dengue drug for its territories


Posted at Dec 06 2017 02:31 AM

PARIS - A public body close to France's health ministry last year advised against the use of a dengue vaccine in the country's overseas territories that is currently at the center of a health scare, regulatory documents show.

Concerns surrounding the vaccine, sold by French drugmaker Sanofi under the brand Dengvaxia, have prompted the Philippines to halt its sale and suspend a government programme to immunise hundreds of thousands of children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it supported the Philippines' decision until more information was available.

It said its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization would meet to review evidence next week.

The WHO, which issued a report identifying the vaccine's safety risks in mid-2016, recommended it only be used in people who had prior dengue infection.

Documents issued in 2016 by the Haut Conseil de la Sante Publique, a public body close to the French health ministry, show France's overseas territories were also warned of risks linked to the vaccine.

The health body advised in June 2016 the vaccine not be used in territories such as the Caribbean islands of La Martinique and Guadalupe and French Guiana on the grounds that its effectiveness was not demonstrated with people who had not previously been exposed to the virus.

In October 2016, it also warned of safety risks.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease that kills about 20,000 people a year and infects hundreds of millions more.

Brazil, which shares a border with French Guiana, said on Monday it had suggested restrictions on the use of Dengvaxia but not suspended access to the vaccine.

Dengvaxia has been approved in 19 countries and used in 11. It is currently under review by European health regulators.