MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted former Department of Health (DOH) secretary Janette Garin for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide due to the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
It also found probable cause to indict 19 other respondents from DOH, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and from pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur Inc.
“The respondents exhibited inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight when they facilitated, with undue haste, the registration and purchase of Dengvaxia and use it in implementing a school-based dengue immunization program,” the DOJ said.
Garin and other respondents – Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Gerardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Julius Leociones, Maria Joyce Ducusin, Rosalino Vianzon, and Mario Baquilod were each charged with eight counts of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide.
The Aquino administration initiated the nationwide immunization program in the summer of 2016, purchasing P3.5 billion in Dengvaxia vaccines for one million public schoolchildren in regions reported to have the highest incidence of dengue.
DOH stopped the program in December 2017 after Sanofi Pasteur said Dengvaxia might increase the risk of severe dengue in recipients who had not contracted the mosquito-borne disease.
At the time, over 800,000 school children had already been vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
Garin has denied irregularity in the dengue vaccine program during her term at DOH.
Also indicted were FDA’s Maria Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio, RITM’s Soccorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capeding, Sanofi’s Carlito Realuyo, Stanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean Vacherand, Conchita Santos, and Jazel Calvo.
“The Department of Justice clarifies that the finding of neglect against those who administered the immunization program using Dengvaxia should not, in any way, be used to stoke public fear of vaccination,” the DOJ said in a statement, adding that the decision “reiterated the high degree of accountability and caution demanded of those who adopt and implement policies and programs involving public health.”
Meanwhile, complaints against current DOH secretary Francisco Duque III, DOH officer-in-charge Herminigildo Valle and Sanofi Pasteur’s Pearl Grace Cabali and Maria Ester Vanguardia Deantoni were dismissed for lack of evidence.
“Holding to account those who neglect to discharge their duties to the public with utmost caution and competence is the best deterrent against the repetition in the future of the criminal neglect exhibited by respondents,” the DOJ said, adding that “it is likewise the best assurance that all government health programs – immunization drives included – will conform to the highest standards of safety and efficacy.”
At the time of purchase, the Dengvaxia vaccine was not listed in the so-called Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF).
A purchase request for the vaccine was made as early as January 2016. Actual purchase was made in March 2016.
Republic Act 9502, otherwise known as the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, prohibits the government from procuring drugs and medicines which are not included in the PNDF.
Meanwhile, Executive Order 49 series of 1993 requires PNFD listing before drug purchases by the government can be made, the DOJ noted./PN