Philippines plans to sue Sanofi over dengue vaccine

This file photo taken on April 4, 2016 shows a nurse showing vials of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, developed by French medical giant Sanofi, during a vaccination program at an elementary school in suburban Manila. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Philippines plans to sue Sanofi over dengue vaccine

MANILA: The Philippines intends to sue Sanofi after authorities suspended the pharmaceutical giant’s anti-dengue vaccine in response to the company warning the drug could lead to severe infections in some cases, the health secretary said Thursday.
Regulators froze the Philippines’ world-first public dengue immunization program last week and suspended all sales of the vaccine on Monday after Sanofi said Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated people who contracted the disease for the first time.
“Eventually it’s the court of law that is going to decide in so far as the liability of Sanofi is concerned,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on ABS-CBN television
The previous administration of president Benigno Aquino launched the vaccination program last year, making the Philippines the first nation to use Dengvaxia on a mass scale.
About 830,000 schoolchildren had received at least one dose of the vaccine, Duque said on Thursday. Previously the government said more than 733,000 people had been vaccinated.
Sanofi’s announcement last week caused great concern in the Philippines — where the mosquito-born disease is extremely prevalent.
The French company on Monday sought to allay concerns, saying Dengvaxia would not cause anyone who was immunized to die and would not cause a dengue infection.
However, Duque said Thursday Sanofi’s recent statements on Dengvaxia were “confusing.”
Duque said he may ask Sanofi to refund 1.4 billion pesos ($27.6 million) worth of unused Dengvaxia supplies.
He added the government might also demand Sanofi set up an “indemnity fund” to cover the hospitalization cost for children vaccinated under the public program who would fall ill.
Asked if the government would sue Sanofi if allegations of a lack of transparency were proved, Duque said: “I’m sure it’s going to get there.”
He added: “If it’s found out that (Sanofi) withheld material information that would have changed the outcome of all of these problems and the decision makers of the Department of Health in the previous administration, then they are liable.”
Duque said congressional hearings into the issue would start next week.
Sanofi said Thursday it was surprised by Duque’s remarks, adding it would continue to comply with Philippine authorities’ legal directives.
“Sanofi is a responsible company that has acted according to Philippine laws and regulations for the supply and sale of the vaccine according to the approved label in the country,” the company said in a statement emailed to AFP.


Sheriff: 8 people dead after Missouri tourist boat accident

Updated 10 min 43 sec ago
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Sheriff: 8 people dead after Missouri tourist boat accident

BRANSON: An amphibious vehicle capsized on a lake in Missouri with more than 20 people on board, leading to a “mass casualty incident,” the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District said on Thursday.
Several people were taken to hospital following the incident on the “Ride the Ducks” amphibious vehicle on Table Rock Lake, Stone County, near Branson, Missouri, the fire district said in posts on Twitter.
Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said there were fatalities when the boat carrying 31 people, some of them children, capsized and sank, television station KY3 News reported.
Rader said he did not know how many people were killed and divers were on the scene searching for passengers, KY3 News reported.
The Stone County Sheriff’s Office could not immediately confirm the report.
Ride The Ducks, a company in Branson, Missouri, that operates amphibious duck vehicles in the area, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Duck amphibious vehicles have been involved in a number fatal accidents around the world in the past two decades, with some sinking or being swamped or others colliding with vehicles.