The Philippines has ordered French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur to pull out its Dengue vaccine from the market, pending the compliance with the directives of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), said the government agency. The Philippines, however, was the first nation to use the vaccine.
Authorities are still in the process of reviewing information about the vaccine including the epidemiological data and assessing whether it will be cost-effective to make the vaccine a part of the country's standard immunisation package, said Dr Suwanchai Watthanayingcharoen, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
"Pharmaceutical companies should also be held responsible for selling vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials and should be held equally accountable for any problem that arises from their manufactured vaccines", Poe stressed.
As of November, the vaccine was administered to about 700,000 children, the DOH said.
A draft of the House Committee on Health report in 2016 said that there were 997 reported cases of individuals who experienced adverse events following immunization.
However, Sanofi Pasteur on November 29 issued an advisory warning of the risk posed by the vaccine to those without prior infection.
"We will demand the refund of the PhP 3.5 billion paid for the Dengvaxia, and that Sanofi set up an indemnification fund to cover the hospitalization and medical treatment for all children who might have severe dengue", Duque said in a statement.
"The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had a prior infection".
"Although Thailand has already begun giving the dengue vaccine to interested people, mainly at privately run hospitals, the vaccine is only seen as one measure to control dengue and it still has to be used all along with other key disease prevention measures", he said.
Some 1,000 people fell sick after receiving Dengvaxia, including 30 children who were hospitalized, according to data from the Department of Health.
The Philippine Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured the public on Monday that there is no reason to panic over the government's dengue vaccination program even as it announced the start of a probe into the governments' procurement of Dengvaxia vaccine.
Dr Suwanchai said while waiting for the World Health Organization to formally react to the matter, all the DDC could do is assure people who have already acquired dengue immunity after a previous infection that they will experience less severe symptoms after getting the shot. The government bought P3.5 million in Dengvaxia from Sanofi for a vaccination program that targeted about 1 million public school students.