by Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate
It is necessary to establish the truth or the absence of truth regarding the corruption allegations in the Dengvaxia program of the government because moving forward the current and even future administrations need to serve the Filipino people with justice.
The negative effects of the Dengvaxia vaccine to those were not infected by dengue virus prior to their immunization will not be immediately evident. This is why the current leadership of the Department of Health immediately devised and implemented a surveillance system.
If and when, the feared “severe dengue” happens to those who were immunized by Dengvaxia, who should be responsible for their treatment?
We should support the position of the current head of the Department Health, Secretary Francisco Duque that Sanofi Pasteur should refund the three billion pesos already paid by the Philippine government for the purchase of the Dengvaxia virus.
In addition to the refund, Sanofi Pasteur needs to be made responsible for all expenses and be liable for all other adverse effects of the vaccine in the future. It is not enough for the company to say that the vaccine is effective and safe. Let the company put their money where its mouth is. If need be, the company should set aside funds for the treatment of those who will suffer severe dengue infections because they were injected with the Dengvaxia vaccine.
But this should not free the company from any other legal liabilities should the same be imposed by our courts. This should certainly not free Sanofi Pasteur from what it should suffer if and when corruption in this case is established and proven.
The points raised by Senator Richard Gordon during the December 14 hearing on the reputation of Sanofi given several cases of bribery in other countries are important. Such points present themselves as, at the very least, a motivation for our legislators and other law enforcement agencies to look deeper into the corruption angle of this case.
The Philippine Dengvaxia case is complex but it provides very simple lessons particularly for the Philippine government.
Let us hope that since the investigations of the Senate and the House of Representatives are in-aid of legislation, we will soon have stricter laws that will better protect the Filipino people. In particular, we let us hope that our legislators can craft laws that will make our government decision makers to be truly accountable for their actions and decisions.