The Justice department has again recommended the indictment of former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and other health officials in connection with the second batch of complaints involving the deaths of eight schoolchildren arising from their inoculation with the unproven Dengvaxia vaccine.
Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta on Friday welcomed the indictment of Garin and several others.
“The evidence presented is overwhelming,” she told the Manila Standard.
“The Dengvaxia victims expected full indictment and prosecution at the proper court with jurisdiction.”
In a statement released on Friday, Justice Assistant Secretary Neal Bainto said the panel of prosecutors that conducted the preliminary investigation had found probable cause to charge Garin and nine other officials of the Department of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Sanofi Pasteur Inc. for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
Citing the 78-page resolution dated Feb. 19, the DOJ said the panel also found sufficient evidence to indict the president of Sanofi for violating the Consumer Act of the Philippines for manufacturing the Dengvaxia vaccine, which it said posed certain risks to seronegative, or to those who had not previously contracted the dengue disease.
Copies of the resolution were not made available to the media.
“Likewise, the panel found that the circumstances surrounding the dispensation of the Dengvaxia vaccine made the same a mislabeled drug and held liable the President of Sanofi and four of its other officers or directors for violating the same Act,” the DOJ statement said.
The DOJ prosecutors have already found a sufficient basis to indict those named as respondents in the first batch of complaints filed by the Public Attorney’s Office.
Bainto said the DOJ panel found that there was an “inexcusable lack of precaution” on the part of Garin and the other respondent government officials in “fast-tracking of the procurement process” for the Dengvaxia vaccine despite being aware of its low efficacy results and the potential risks associated with its use.
Executive Order 49, series of 1993, requires Philippine National Drug Formulary listing before drug purchases by the government can be made, subject to certain exceptions.
“The panel found that the respondent government officials were reckless when they allowed the purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine despite the red flags already known to them,’’ the DOJ statement said.
It said the prosecutors noted that the clinical trials for the Dengvaxia vaccine were not yet completed when it was purchased and rolled out for use in the government’s mass immunization program.
Despite the ongoing clinical trials, FDA approved the vaccine’s registration.
The DOJ panel said reckless imprudence was exhibited by those who voluntarily, but without malice do or fail to do an act “from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution” of said person.
“The panel concluded that the accomplishment of the procurement process for the Dengvaxia vaccine, with undue haste, within a limited time frame, and despite the red flags known to Garin and the other respondents, amounted to Reckless Imprudence,” Bainto said. With Rio N. Araja
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