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.


Outrage in France after teen threatens teacher with fake gun

Updated 21 October 2018
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Outrage in France after teen threatens teacher with fake gun

  • The incident, which was filmed and uploaded onto social media by one of the teen’s classmates, took place Thursday at a high school
  • In the video the 15-year-old can be seen standing over the seated teacher, brandishing a weapon that turned out to be an air gun

PARIS: French politicians on Sunday reacted with outrage to a video of a teenager in a tough Paris suburb threatening his teacher with a fake gun.
The incident, which was filmed and uploaded onto social media by one of the teen’s classmates, took place Thursday at a high school in the southeastern suburb of Creteil.
In the video the 15-year-old can be seen standing over the seated teacher, brandishing a weapon that turned out to be an air gun.
“You’ve marked me absent. Mark me as present,” he shouts as another student tries to plead his case with the teacher, who appears more weary than panicked and continues working on her laptop while exchanging a few inaudible remarks with the class.
On Friday she filed a police complaint over the incident, which was condemned by President Emmanuel Macron and members of his cabinet as well as the right-wing opposition.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a joint statement Sunday they would convene a top-level meeting next week to discuss ways to end violence in schools in low-income city suburbs.
“School is the cradle of the Republic and it is where we learn to respect the Republic,” Castaner said during a visit to a police station in eastern Paris, vowing to “recapture the Republic square meter by square meter” from lawless elements.
The suspected gun bearer, who presented himself to police on Friday accompanied by his father, was to be brought before an investigating magistrate on Sunday to face charges of aggravated violence.
Le Parisien newspaper reported that he admitted to pointing the imitation gun at the teacher, but said it was meant “as a joke” and that he was not aware he was being filmed.
The paper said he was angry that the teacher marked him down as absent when he had been merely late for class.
Another teenager suspected of bringing the fake weapon to school was also questioned by police but released without charge.
Macron on Saturday warned in a tweet that threatening a teacher was “unacceptable” and said he had ordered his ministers to take “all necessary measures” to prevent a repeat of the incident.
France has so far been spared the kind of gun violence that has plagued schools in the United States and parts of northern Europe.