Philippine officials consider Sanofi's Dengvaxia—again—amid deadly outbreak

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Sanofi suffered a vaccine safety scandal in the Philippines, but now officials are considering using its Dengvaxia again. (Sanofi on Flickr)

It’s hard to imagine Sanofi’s Dengvaxia rollout in the Philippines going worse than it did, what with investigations and allegations that the shot caused deaths in children. But authorities are considering introducing the vaccine again to fight an outbreak that’s claimed hundreds of lives, according to reports.

Amid an ongoing outbreak that’s led to 450 deaths, health officials in the country are again looking to Sanofi’s Dengvaxia to contain the disease, Reuters reports. If officials move forward, they’d proceed with “utmost caution,” a spokesman for the president told the news service. 

Pharma watchers will likely remember Sanofi’s disastrous Dengvaxia rollout in the Philippines. After officials started a vaccination campaign, the company warned of a new analysis that showed Dengvaxia can cause more serious infections if given to people who haven’t had a prior dengue infection.  

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That revelation triggered outrage as officials quickly cancelled vaccinations and struck up investigations. Earlier this year, authorities said they had probable cause to indict Sanofi executives and officials in the Philippine government. Sanofi at the time said it "strongly" disagreed and would defend its employees.

RELATED: Philippine prosecutors prepare to indict Sanofi officials in Dengvaxia disaster 

Now, if the country decides to move forward with vaccinations, health workers would have to screen potential recipients for prior infections. And the decision to restart vaccinations wouldn’t affect the government’s ongoing cases against officials and Sanofi executives tied to the scandal, the presidential spokesman said, as quoted by Reuters. 

Despite the situation in the Philippines, Sanofi hasn’t abandoned its vaccine and has scored approvals in the U.S. and in Europe, plus more than a dozen other countries. Sales never reached the blockbuster estimates the vaccine carried before its launch, partly due to the Philippines scandal. Sanofi spent 20 years and €1.5 billion developing the vaccine.

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