Drilon: Nothing wrong with COVID-19 vaccine indemnification law

Published March 26, 2021, 1:47 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday, March 26 said he sees no problem with the law that sets up an indemnification fund in reparation for those who would suffer adverse side effects from any COVID-19 vaccine.

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO)

In the first place, Drilon said the vaccines have no commercial permit and cannot be sold to pharmaceutical companies of hospitals, but are needed right now because of the pandemic.

He pointed out that the primary reason lawmakers agreed to come up with an indemnity fund was due to the request of drug manufacturers for protection against suit.

“Because ordinarily, they are saying, they cannot sell if they have no permit. And we cannot apply for a permit because we don’t have sufficient trial for the vaccine,” Drilon explained in Filipino in an interview on ABS-CBN’s “Teleradyo.”

The minority leader stressed that vaccines usually have to reach Phase 4 trials before these can be commercially sold.

“Now, the clinical trials are still on Phase 3 and yet we are asking them to sell it to us. So that is why they are asking for an indemnity clause. Which means we cannot file charges against them if there are adverse side effects,” he said.

He reiterated that the proposal of inserting an indemnity clause under Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 came from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. Lawmakers only agreed to the proposal.

“In other words, manufacturers, ordinarily, won’t have any liability on the side effects of the vaccines, except if the side effects was due to gross negligence or willful misconduct. If that happens then they would have to pay for damages,” he said.

Last Monday, March 22, President Duterte said it would be “illegal” for the government to shoulder the compensation of those who would suffer side effects from the shots that the private sector procured, confusing lawmakers over the President’s pronouncement since he endorsed the measure to Congress and signed it into law last month.

To date, only four COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Philippines. These are Pfizer-BioNTech , AstraZeneca-Oxford, Sinovac and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V.