By Jeffrey Damicog
Two doctors are set to file their counter-affidavits Friday before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in response to criminal complaints alleging that they should also be held liable over the deaths of children who received the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
The panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay directed former Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) deputy executive director Dr. Raymundo Lo and Dr. Sonia Gonzales to file their counter-affidavits.
The panel is currently conducting a preliminary investigation on the second batch of complaints concerning the liability of current and former government officials as well as pharmaceutical companies over the deaths of individuals who received Dengvaxia.
The complainants, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), filed a motion seeking to implead Lo and Gonzales as additional respondents in the complaints.
In their motion, the complainants pointed out the two are “known personalities who facilitated the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccine even before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued the Certificate of Product Registration.
“From the foregoing actuations, the complicity of Dr. Lo and Dr. Gonzales to the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccine with undue haste despite of the fact that it is still on its trial stage is manifest making them liable as the other respondents in the case,” read the motion of the complainants.
The complainants cited that got a hold of a purchase request recently which showed
“A careful perusal of Purchase Request No. PH-2016-001GF dated January 21, 2016 which has come only into the knowledge of the herein complainants on November 21, 2018, would reveal that Dr. Raymundo W. Lo, as head of center, through Dr. Sonio B. Gonzales who signed for and his behalf, was the one who requested for the Purchase of Dengue Tetravalent Vaccine (live attenuated), 4mL + 2.5mL of 0.9% sodium chloride (5 doses) for the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI),” read the motion.
The complainants pointed out this shows that a purchase request was made for Dengvaxia even before an invitation to bid was published on January 23, 2016 for a dengue tetravalent vaccine.
They added the purchase request even before a Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) Exemption was issued on Feb. 3, 2016.
“It is significant to note, that the PNDF Exemption is necessary before Dengvaxia can be purchased by the government,” they stated.
The second batch of complaints concern the deaths of eight children, namely, Roshaine Carino, Christine Joy Asuncion, Clarissa Alcantara, Erico Mendoza Leabres, Christine Mae de Guzman, John Paul Rafael, Michael Tablate, and Naomi Nimura.
Under the second batch of complaints, the respondents are accused of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; torture resulting in the death of a person in violation of Section 4(ii) and (14) in relation to Section 14(a)(1) and (5) of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; torture committed against children in violation of Section 15 of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; defective product in violation of Article 97 in relation to Article 100, in relation of Article 107 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines; and mislabeled product in violation of Article 89 in relation to 95 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
Those who have been named as respondents are former health secretary Janette Garin and DOH officials Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Dr. Irma Asuncion, Dr. Julius Lecciones, Dr. Joyce Ducusin, Rosalind Viianzon, and Mario Baquilod.
Also named as respondents are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials Dr. Maria Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio; and officials of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), namely, Drs. Socorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capeding.
Executives of Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pastuer and local distributor Zuellig Pharma are also included as respondents.