French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi agreed to reimburse the Philippine government for leftover doses of an anti-dengue vaccine whose use was suspended due to health concerns, the two parties said.
The manufacturer said the refund had nothing to do with safety issues and was meant to improve ties with the Philippine health department, which is investigating the deaths of more than a dozen children injected with Dengvaxia. Philippine regulators stopped the sale and distribution of the drug last month after Sanofi warned the shots could worsen symptoms for vaccinated people who contracted the disease for the first time.
The Philippine Department of Health’s (DOH) sent last week a demand letter to Sanofi Pasteur to refund the $27.8 million for the unused Dengvaxia vaccine.
“Sanofi Pasteur has responded positively to the Philippine Department of Health’s (DOH) request that we provide reimbursement for the doses of Dengvaxia that were not used by the government in the public vaccination program,” Sanofi Pasteur said in a statement.
Philippine authorities have been investigating the deaths of 14 children who were among more than 830,000 given Dengvaxia last year in the world’s first public immunisation programme against dengue. The Philippines became the first country in Asia to approve the use of the vaccine.
After the programme began, Sanofi Pasteur released findings in November of a new study that showed Dengvaxia could lead to severe infections in some cases. Sanofi Pasteur has maintained that no death has been found to have been caused by Dengvaxia.