THE Department of Justice (DoJ) has found probable cause to indict former Health Secretary Janette L. Garin and other officials along with pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. (Sanofi) for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide over the purchase and use of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Ms. Garin, in an interview on Friday, maintained her innocence and said that she will defend herself in court.
In a press statement released on Friday, the DoJ said that based on preliminary investigations on the second batch
of complaints for the deaths of children allegedly linked to the administration of the Dengvaxia vaccine, its Panel of Prosecutors “found probable cause to indict former Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Janette L. Garin and nine other DOH officials, along with officials of the Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide.”
The DoJ said that it found irregularities in the purchase of the vaccine, as Ms. Garin and the other health officials fast-tracked the procurement process. It also found that the purchase of the vaccines was done even if there were more beneficial vaccines for the government’s National Immunization Program (NIP). There was already opposition to Dengvaxia’s use due to its low effectivity on the dengue virus stereotype 2, which is the more common type of dengue in the Philippines.
The release stated that “the Panel found that there was ‘inexcusable lack of precaution’ on on the part of Garin and the other respondent government officials in ‘fast-tracking of the procurement process’ for the Dengvaxia Vaccine despite being aware of its low efficacy results and potential risks associated with its use.”
The DoJ said that the health officials who were charged also neglected to fully inform Dengvaxia recipients and their parents/families about the nature and risks of the vaccine. A physical examination or health assessment was also not done prior and after being vaccinated.
Probable cause was also found to indict the president of Sanofi for violating the Consumer Act of the Philippines for manufacturing the vaccine that poses risks to those who have not previously contracted dengue, and that “circumstances surrounding the dispensation” of the vaccine made it a “mislabeled drug.” For the latter, the president of Sanofi and four of its officers/directors will be held liable for violating the same Act.
In an interview with ANC on Friday, Ms. Garin said that she is “Ready to face the charges” and added that the vaccine is not the cause of death of some of the recipients whose relatives claim that Dengvaxia was to blame.
“Bottom line is that these patients died of other causes,” she said.
She added, “This is definitely an issue of politics ruling over public health.” — Gillian M. Cortez