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DOH Philippines Yields to US Congress Blackmail-

By: Bernie V. Lopez



Dengue Vaccine Row

Philippine Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial, newly appointed by President Duterte, was initially against the use of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, but changed her mind after the House Appropriations Committee threatened to reduce her department budget, as reported by the National Committee on Urban Pest Control (NCUPC). Duterte has alerted his agencies – the DENR, DOH, DA, and DBM to act on the NCUPC reports, but there are still no reactions as of this writing. Sanofi’s reply to the author’s Letter to the Inquirer Editor of December 10, 2016 is shown below.
Dengvaxia is manufactured by Sanofi, a giant French multinational. According to the Scientific-American, Dengvaxia is not a total cure. It simply reduces “the chances of developing the disease by about 60%”. Also, it is “approved for use (only) in people 9 to 45 years old. If it is not safe for certain ages, then its entire safety is questionable. Sanofi’s claim that it is ‘safe’ based on 3 phases of clinical tests, whose details were undisclosed, is questionable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must make the tests, not the makers.
Dengvaxia, a worldwide monopoly, costs a staggering Php3,000 to Php5,000 per person. Sanofi has an ingenious marketing strategy for such a highway robbery. They sell to Third World governments which are easy to ‘convince’ to allocate big budgets. Thus, the DOH has a whopping Php3 billion vaccine program. To complete the stranglehold, Sanofi has no local distributors and deals directly with DOH, says NCUPC. The P3-billion DOH dengue program targets mostly just Grade Four students. How about the rest? More budget?
How a foreign multinational has so much power to influence government health policies is appalling. So far, Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines are the first victims, with India coming up next. In the US, there are many vaccine controversies. (Read more – 1-pre-school, 2-baby-dies, 3-respiratory, 4-cant-be-sued.) 
Environmentalists argue that attacking the mosquito is cheaper and more effective than attacking the virus with a questionable vaccine. Local fumigants cost as little as Php600 per barangay, like the one offered by Mapecon.
Sanofi also has tentacles in the FDA, which approved the Dengvaxia license in a midnight decision just before the 2016 elections, says NCUPC. Tests normally take years. Does our FDA approve without tests if the US FDA approves, not knowing that it is also controlled by pharmaceutical giants? 
We are calling on President Duterte to investigate the congressional blackmail, and to compel the DOH to suspend the use of Dengvaxia until further studies and tests. Our health decisions must be made by us, not by foreign multinationals looking for sudden windfalls.
Bernie V. Lopez

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