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Sanofi agrees to reimburse Philippines’ Dengvaxia stockpiles

Published on 15/01/18 at 10:14am

Sanofi has agreed with the Department of Health (DoH) for the Philippines to reimburse $27.86 million worth of vaccines, though its press release associated with the decision suggests it may have been made through gritted teeth.

Despite agreeing to refund the costs of the leftover vaccines, Sanofi refused to acknowledge that this decision was in any way related to safety or quality issues with the Dengvaxia.

Only yesterday, Health Secretary for the Philippines, Francisco Duque, told reporters that some of 14 children who had died after receiving a vaccine showed signs of severe dengue or dengue shock syndrome.

The announcement undoubtedly ramped up the pressure on Sanofi, as the Philippines had called on it to both reimburse the leftover vaccines and to provide serotesting to over 830,000 recipients of the vaccine to determine whether they were at risk.

“Our decision to reimburse for unused doses is not related to any safety or quality issue with Dengvaxia. Rather Sanofi Pasteur hopes that this decision will allow us to be able to work more openly and constructively with the DoH to address the negative tone towards the dengue vaccine in the Philippines today,” the French firm said in a statement.

“Sanofi Pasteur strongly believes that this tone is due to a misunderstanding of the benefits and risks associated with the dengue vaccine and a lack of awareness amongst the general public, particularly parents of vaccinated children, that the overall benefit of dengue vaccination remains positive in high endemic countries like the Philippines,” it added.

The negative tone in the Philippines towards the vaccine is presumably linked to the release at the end of November by Sanofi that revealed that those who had no prior exposure to dengue when vaccine with Dengvaxia would be at an elevated risk for severe dengue.

Sanofi will be hoping that by reimbursing the price of the vaccines it may be able to assuage some of the ill-will towards the company; however, if it is concretely revealed that children died of severe dengue due to the vaccine, pressure is sure to mount against the company again.

Ben Hargreaves

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