MANILA – French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur said on Monday it will return 1.4 billion pesos ($27.8 million) to the Philippine government for the doses of unused vaccines, following the suspension of the dengue vaccination program in the country.
“Our decision to reimburse for unused doses is not related to any safety or quality issue with Dengvaxia (name of the vaccine),” the firm said in a statement.
Sanofi Pasteur expressed hope that the measure would allow them to work “more openly and constructively” with the Philippines.
On Dec. 1, the health ministry announced a temporary suspension of the public vaccination campaign against dengue after Sanofi Pasteur detected issues with Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) vaccine in some cases.
According to Sanofi Pasteur – founded in 1994 in Lyon, France and based in Pennsylvania, the United States –, the vaccine protects patients with a history of dengue, but it is possible that the effects could be more severe than normal if the vaccine is administered to people who have not been infected or contracted the disease before.
Dengvaxia was developed for people aged between nine and 45 years, and Mexico was the first country to try this vaccine on Dec. 9, 2015.
The vaccination program in the Philippines was launched in 2016 and was aimed at around a million students in some 6,000 public schools.
The program was divided into three phases, each under a six-month timeframe, with the first phase launched on April 4, 2016.
There are around 390 million dengue infections per year, with almost 100 million cases manifesting the severity of disease, according to the WHO.