Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gabi ng Lagim? Here's what happened on the night of Paris visit by the former health secretary Garin

Pulled the string in spring?
Former Health Secretary Janette Garin | Photo from Rappler

In springtime of Paris, May 2015, the then-secretary of the Department of Health Janette Garin was there.

Her intention? To meet and dine with some of the VIPs. On her list was the executives of the French Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Pasteur, the company behind the anti-dengue vaccine that is now very controversial in the country: Dengvaxia.

The health secretary did confirm she had set foot in Paris in May 2015. However, she denied having a dinner with the top officials of the Dengvaxia-drug maker.

Which is which?

May 2017, in an ABS-CBN interview, she said she only met with the French Health Minister. But a report, dispatched by the Philippine Ambassador to France to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), dated May 2015 that listed down the then health secretary's activities in Paris in 2015 surfaced.

ABS-CBN News was able to obtain a copy of such which was duly signed by Theresa P. Lazaro, Ambassador to France.

Receipts never lie

The document provided by Ambassador Lazaro detailed the different official engagements made by Garin that month in Franceof which a dinner in Paris on May 14, 2015 was included.

According to the said report, the dinner was between the DOH Sec. and the Vice President of Sanofi-Pasteur’s Dengue Vaccine Program, Guillaume Leroy.

With the two at the dinner were the Sanofi-Pasteur’s Senior Director for Vaccination Policy and Advocacy, Jean-Antoine Zinsou, and the company’s Country Manager in the Philippines, Ching Santos, the report said.

Among the topics that Garin and the pharmaceutical giant's top officials discussed were the vaccine price, ways to create its demand in the country, and a game plan to justify inclusion of such in the succeeding budget of the Philippine government.

A part of the report read “Secretary Garin inquired on the prices of the vaccine”, “She stated that it may be too expensive for the Philippine government to fully cover the cost of the 3-dose vaccine.”

To which Leroy replied “Sanofi-Pasteur will finalize a proposal (cost/pricing) for the Philippines by June 2015”.

On the same report, it was also indicated that Garin also suggested the “private sector launch the vaccine” in the country.

“A private launch and widespread ‘private use’ will create a demand for the vaccine, and will thus pave the way for the Department of Health (DOH) to include (it) in the succeeding years’ budget”.

It also stated that on the next day, a tour in the Neuville Dengue Facility in Lyon, Eastern France was given by the Sanofi-Pasteur officials to Garin and her delegation.

The former heath secretary did confirm that the tour occurred but she said it had nothing to do with the anti-dengue vaccine.


Had the Department of Foreign Affairs not been alerted by the French Foreign Ministry, they would not have known about Garin’s visit to France in May 2015.

A thing that is strange and unusual.

The Department of Foreign Affairs must be in the loop when it comes to ministerial-level delegations so that 'substantive and administrative preparations could be made', ABS-CBN reported.

Meanwhile, DFA's report stated that “Based on personal discussions with (France’s) Ambassador Garachon, it appears that they too had no full knowledge of the Secretary’s program and agenda in France”.

They, the authorities from the DFA, was only made aware anent this matter only after the Philippine Embassy in Paris communicated with the country's health department saying it received a copy of the secretary's program. They received it only three days prior her arrival in France.

Source: ABS-CBN News

Read On Dengvaxia: Asia's political consultant reveals the transaction document for the vaccine procurement

Read 'Nagkamali po ako' : Ex-DOH Sec. Janette Garin finally speaks up anent Dengvaxia controversy

Read Things you need to know about Dengvaxia: The Sanofi vaccine administered to 733,713 Filipino pupils

Read Abot-kaya lang pala! | Dengvaxia, ibinibenta sa India sa napakamurang halaga?

Read What went wrong? New York University alumnus explains Aquino and Garin's Dengvaxia scandal

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