Philippines approves Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine


By Cesar Mills/ – The Philippines has granted approval for the sales of a new dengue vaccine, following Mexico as the first two countries to allow a treatment that could prevent the flu-like illness that threatens half the world’s population.

The World Health Organisation aims to reduce dengue mortality by 50 per cent and morbidity by 25 per cent by 2020 in the disease-prone countries.

Health Secretary Janette Garin expressed confidence that with the use of the vaccine, dengue cases will significantly decrease. This summer, Sanofi said it expected to file in 20 nations by the end of the year, and a spokesperson confirmed last week that it has submitted for licensure in “many endemic countries simultaneously”.

The Philippines’ FDA approved the first-of-its-kind vaccine, Dengvaxia, on Tuesday, becoming the first Asian country to do so and the second worldwide after Mexico’s regulatory nod earlier this month.

She, however, said interested parties, which would like to purchase the first batch of the revolutionary vaccine, will still have to wait until next month.

Scientists have always been stumped by dengue, which has four separate strains, forcing researchers to find a drug able to fight all of them at once.

“A higher incidence of hospitalization in the third year after vaccination among children younger than nine years of age naturally infected with dengue raises a “critical question” whether this is a short-term or a long-term phenomenon” noted an editorial in the September 24 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine which suggested booster doses of the vaccine might reduce this risk. Its symptoms include fever, joint pain and vomiting, which can become lethal.

The vaccine’s maker is hailing it as an important tool to reach the World Health Organization’s objective on dengue, a potentially deadly disease for which children are at particular risk.

In the Philippines alone, an average of 100,000 people get the disease every year and hundreds die due to the virus. It was once considered a disease of the tropics, endemic in only nine countries, but globalisation, urbanisation, climate change and jet travel are helping it to move into more temperate zones.

The number of dengue cases has risen 30-fold over the last 50 years, according to the WHO, making it the world’s fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease and leaving more than half of the global population at risk.

The France-based pharmaceutical company acknowledged the important role of the Philippines in developing Dengvaxia.

“The Philippines is really very vital to the success of the vaccine’s development”. First doses of the vaccine have been produced at the dedicated production site in France with a planned full-scale production capacity of 100 million vaccine doses annually.

“This vaccine underwent three phases of clinical trial in the Philippines”.

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