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Ex-DOH chief Garin says PCMC bought P3.5-B Dengvaxia vaccines

Former Health secretary Janette Garin has claimed that the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) was responsible for the purchase of P3.5 billion worth of Dengvaxia from Sanofi Pasteur.

A 24 Oras report on Saturday said that according to Garin, the Department of Health (DOH) was not involved in the dengue vaccine's procurement.

The former health chief also denied that she had a hand in the bidding process for the dengue immunization program. She said talks with Sanofi on the possible purchase of Dengvaxia started during the time of her predecessor, former Health secretary Enrique Ona.

GMA News has reached out to the PCMC and Sanofi for a comment as of the report.

In an interview in Tacloban City, Garin blamed Sanofi Pasteur for the controversial deal.

She admitted that when the French manufacturing company made a presentation of Dengvaxia, it already mentioned the words "severe dengue" but "on an old classification."

"Ang pinaka-mali kasi nilang (Sanofi) malaki is they used the word 'severe dengue' on an old classification. 'Yung classification kasi ng severe dengue, iba noong 1993, iba noong 1996. Iba din naman nitong 2011," Garin said.

"Ang label kasi naman kasi ng severe dengue is kung titignan mo, ang classification nga, is mild. Iyun ang nakita ko noong presentation nila," she added.

Garin was the Health secretary when the DOH started the dengue vaccination programs in public schools in Calabarzon, Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

The former Health secretary has been invited to attend the joint Senate blue ribbon and health and demography committees' hearing on the Dengvaxia deal.

Minority members at the House of Representatives have also called for an investigation into the controversial immunization program while the Department of Justice has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own investigation.

These investigations were called after Sanofi issued an advisory that Dengvaxia should not administered on patients who have not had dengue.

The advisory has prompted Health Secretary Francisco Duque to stop the immunization program and the Food and Drug Administration's order to stop the sale and recall of the vaccines.

The DOH said at least 830,000 public school students have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Cebu province. —Margaret Claire Layug/ALG, GMA News