Former Philippines president to attend senate probe on Sanofi's Dengvaxia vaccine

After he failed to turn up for the senate probe on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, former president of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III is set to attend the House hearing on the issue today.

A member of Aquino's staff confirmed his attendance to the hearing to CNN Philippines.

Former Philippines health secretary Janette Garin, budget secretary Butch Abad, incumbent health secretary Francisco Duque, budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, interior secretary Eduardo Año, justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, and education secretary Leonor Briones have also been invited to the probe.

In the senate hearing on 14 December, 2017, Aquino claimed that no one had advised him against procuring Dengvaxia from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.

''No one advised me against Dengvaxia during the decision-making process, after we procured, and until now,'' (translated), Rappler reported Aquino as saying. 

According to health reform advocate Anthony Leachon, the former president could not be faulted if he was given "misleading" information on the vaccine.

The issue follows an advisory released by Sanofi in December 2017, which said new studies showed those with no previous dengue infection and who had got vaccinated could contract "severe diseases." The government responded by halting its nationwide dengue vaccination programme that got underway in 2016, after 837,000 children were immunised.

According to both, the current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief and a physician, Sanofi Pasteur was well-aware of the risks of Dengvaxia in 2015 but did not inform the Philippine government.

FDA director-general Nela Charade Puno and physician Anthony Leachon both presented documents to prove their accusations against the French pharmaceutical giant as the House resumed its probe into the now-suspended dengue immunisation programme on Monday, 26 February.

According to Puno, the FDAs' special task force on Dengvaxia reviewed the papers submitted by Sanofi to Singapore, which allowed the commercial sale of the dengue vaccine in their country in October 2016.