A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors formally accused former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and several others of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide over the deaths of eight children who received the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
According to a statement issued by the DOJ, also charged were nine other officials of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and drug maker Sanofi Pasteur.
The prosecutors found that there was “inexcusable lack of precaution” on the part of Garin and other health officials in the procurement process for the Dengvaxia vaccine, Justice Asst. Secretary Neal Bainto said on Friday.
The FDA approved the vaccine’s registration even though clinical trials for Dengvaxia were not yet completed when it was rolled out for use in the mass immunization program.
“The Panel concluded that the accomplishment of the procurement process for the Dengvaxia vaccine, with undue haste, within a limited timeframe, and despite the red flags known to Garin and the other respondents, amounted to Reckless Imprudence,” Batin said.
If convicted, Garin and the other respondents face up to 6 years in prison for each of the accusations.
Garin previously said that the issue was only “politicized” in the Philippines.
“I believe the criminal case is very weak because there is absolutely no evidence linking the vaccine to the deaths. We are confident in the dismissal of this case,” she said.
The government stopped its nationwide dengue vaccination program and pulled Dengvaxia off the market in late 2017 after Sanofi warned that the vaccine might cause severe symptoms if given to those who did not have prior exposure to the mosquito-borne disease.
Sanofi has said that no death was confirmed to have been caused by Dengvaxia.
Garin denied the accusations.
Garin said the charges hurled against her linked to the children’s deaths allegedly due to Dengvaxia use were baseless and reeked of politics.
The indictments were the outcome of the second batch of complaints filed by the parents of eight children who died allegedly after being inoculated with Dengvaxia.
“Haharapin ko ito ng buong tapang at walang takot dahil alam natin ang katotohanan,” Garin said.
“Sa sitwasyong ito, ang tunay na hustisya ay dapat makinig sa siyensya at hindi sa pamumulitika,” she added./Stacy Ang