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4 families sue 35 DOH, Sanofi officials over deaths

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2018 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines — The families of four schoolchildren who died after allegedly receiving the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia yesterday filed criminal charges against 35 health officials and executives of Sanofi Pasteur before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Former health secretary Janette Garin led the list of respondents who are facing complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act.

The cases were filed by the families of Aejay Bautista, 11; Angelica Pestilos, 10; Lenard Baldonado, 10, and Zandro Colite, 11, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

The DOJ had ordered the PAO to conduct a fact-finding probe and build up cases on the criminal liabilities of government personnel and private individuals for the deaths allegedly linked to Dengvaxia.

The PAO filed the charges after its forensic teams established that all four victims died of organ failure that could be attributed to the vaccine.

For the reckless imprudence resulting in homicide charge, the complainants cited the respondents’ “malicious and arbitrary failure to inform the public of the dangers of Dengvaxia” and “undue haste for mass administration while the vaccine was still in its clinical trial stage.”

They also accused Garin and the other respondents of “failure to conduct proper screening of recipients” and “failure to initiate a full, active and aggressive monitoring and surveillance to address reports of serious adverse and life-threatening reactions.”

“In so doing, the respondents displayed grave recklessness, utter bad faith, lack of foresight, lack of skills, want of care, gross neglect and deliberate, arbitrary and even malicious disregard of the safety and lives of thousands of Filipino children,” read the complaints.

The PAO said the respondents should be held liable for torture for “intentionally inoculating the Dengvaxia recipients with an unsafe product undergoing clinical trial, which caused them not only severe pain, exhaustion, disability or dysfunction of one or more parts of the body, but untimely death.” 



Records of the agency showed that the four fatalities had no history of dengue when they were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in their respective schools.

The PAO said that Bautista, of Caloocan City, died of multiple organ failure while Pestilos, of Quezon City, had preexisting lupus disease and died of acute respiratory failure. Baldonado, of Laguna, had preexisting leukemia and also died of acute respiratory failure while Colite, of Cavite, died of multiple organ failure.

Apart from Garin, also named respondents are Department of Health officials Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan Go, Gerardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, Rosalind Vianzon and Mario Baquilod, as well as Socorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capeding of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. were also included in the charge sheet.

The executives of Sanofi named in the complaints are Carlito Realuyo, Sanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean-Francois Vacherand, Conchita Santos, Jazel Anne Calvo, Pearl Grace Cabali and Marie Esther de Antoni.

The other respondents are Zuellig officers Kasigod Jamias, Michael Becker, Ricardo Romulo, Imran Babar Chugtai, Raymund Azurin, Nilo Badiola, John Stokes Davison, Marc Franck, Ashley Gerard Antonio, Ana Liza Peralta, Rosa Maria Chua, Danilo Cahoy, Manuel Concio III, Roland Goco and Ma. Visitacion Barreiro.

In a press conference, PAO chief Persida Rueda Acosta explained that Garin was included in the charge sheet because “she was the one who spearheaded the vaccination program.”

Acosta cited as jurisprudence the decision of the United States court that held the secretary of health liable for a similar vaccination mess.

“Why did they buy the vaccine when it was still under clinical trial stage?” the PAO chief said.

Acosta said the PAO has documented 41 deaths allegedly linked to Dengvaxia, but they have only completed the cases for the first four so far.

She said they would file more charges and wait for the findings of the investigation in Congress to determine if higher officials in the previous administration could also be held liable.

The PAO chief clarified that their complaints covered only the deaths of the schoolchildren as the legal cases involving the vaccine procurement process was assigned to the National Bureau of Investigation.

She added they have filed a P4.2-million civil suit against the respondents before the court.

Last February, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. filed criminal charges against former president Benigno Aquino III and 19 others over the Dengvaxia controversy before the DOJ.

The investigating prosecutors, however, suspended the probe due to incomplete information in the complaint for multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence. 

Dengue cases up in C. Luzon

Meanwhile, dengue cases in Central Luzon increased by four percent, with seven deaths based on the latest report of the Department of Health (DOH) regional office.



Source: philstar

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