Drug company under fire after revealing dengue vaccine may harm some

The first promising vaccine for dengue is in jeopardy after the Philippines suspended it, amid widespread fears about its safety and growing public anger over its use in 830,000 schoolchildren.

The first promising vaccine for dengue is in jeopardy after the Philippines suspended it, amid widespread fears about its safety and growing public anger over its use in 830,000 schoolchildren. The Philippines government has begun investigations into the rollout of the immunization program by the French drugmaker Sanofi, which has come under fire for discounting early warnings that its vaccine could put some people at heightened risk of a severe form of the disease. The newly revealed evidence, confirmed recently by Sanofi’s review of study data, found that in rare cases, the vaccine can backfire: If people who never had dengue are vaccinated and later become infected, the vaccine may provoke a much more severe form of the illness. Politicians in the Philippines are demanding information about Sanofi’s advertising campaign and their government’s aggressive push, against the advice of some experts, to vaccinate a million children. Researchers are concerned the backlash could stoke mistrust in vaccines around the globe. Sanofi’s vaccine is approved in 19 countries and is the first to combat dengue.