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Astellas Pharma dragged into ‘12-rupee’ Dengvaxia issue warns public they’re not selling products on IndiaMart, other online portals

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When issues about the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia cropped up, among the points raised was how the Aquino government made tons of money for putting a P1000 price tag on a dose of Dengvaxia vaccine when it only allegedly costs 12 rupees (around P9.38, as of writing) in India. We wrote an article that pointed out how Dengvaxia is not yet sold in India, based reports that Sanofi Pasteur Philippine medical director Ruby Dizon said their vaccine is not sold in India and that the French pharmaceutical company is still seeking the last phase of clinical trials in India before the vaccine gets approved for selling in the country.

Some were even relieved the Indian government has not yet authorized the sale of the vaccine in their country. Business Standard, one of India’s business daily, published an article about how their government’s red tape helped the country narrowly avoid a health crisis.

“The delay by the health ministry in approving the sale of the first-ever dengue vaccine developed by French pharmaceutical major Sanofi Pasteur might seem like another case of red tape, but the health crisis unfolding in the Philippines shows that India might have narrowly avoided a disaster,” reported the Business Standard.

The drug controller general of India, G N Singh, explained the delay in the approval of Dengvaxia.

“This vaccine has been pending with us for two years. We do not plan to approve it till we are satisfied, irrespective of what other drug regulators do,” he said. “The company had sought a clinical trial waiver. We need to evaluate such requests. But, we will not approve any vaccine without being satisfied with the quality and efficacy.”

To clarify things, despite the ecommerce site IndiaMart having vendors claiming to be selling the dengue vaccine in India, their health ministry has not approved Dengvaxia’s sale in their country.

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Then, a tipster alerted us to a message from Astellas Pharma India Private Limited to the public about them not selling products on IndiaMart. In the online marketplace, the name “Astellas Pharma India” was used as the seller of the Dengvaxia vaccine that allegedly costs only 12 rupees per piece. This is the same price tag that was being shared by several netizens who are questioning why the Department of Health under the Aquino government agreed to pay P1000 per dose of the vaccine to Sanofi Pasteur when it only costs a little over P9 in India.

In its website, Astellas Pharma India Private Limited wrote:

“Please be informed that some unauthorized persons are unlawfully marketing certain pharmaceutical/healthcare products on an online portal in the name of ‘Astellas Pharma India Pvt Ltd ’ and/or its parent company, Astellas Pharma Inc. and through other names misrepresenting themself as ‘Astellas Pharma’ using our actual logo and office address.

Astellas Pharma India Pvt Ltd and its parent company, Astellas Pharma Inc., do not market or sell any products via any online portals including, but not limited to, IndiaMart. So, please do not purchase any products in the name including “Astellas” online.

Presently, Astellas Pharma India Pvt Ltd markets and sells in India the products listed on the website.

This information is issued in public interest and to safeguard the interests of the patients.”

This meant that the real Astellas Pharma is not the one selling the 12-rupee a piece of Dengvaxia vaccine on IndiaMart. The Japanese pharmaceutical company’s name was merely used by scammers.

IndiaMart may not be all that strict in regulating the participating vendors on their website. USA Today reported back in February 2016 that some of IndiaMart’s vendors are selling illicit products, such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, and LSD. Another report from Inc42, an Indian media platform, in August 2017 showed how IndiaMart and three other ecommerce sites were issued a notice for the alleged sale of wildlife items. So it could have been easy for a scammer using Astellas Pharma’s name to sell Dengvaxia even if it is not yet approved by the Indian government, noting how IndiaMart’s lack of selectiveness when it comes to accepting vendors.

A netizen, lawyer Rodolfo Cabado, said our article debunking the P9 Dengvaxia vaccine in India is confusing because while we said we found reports that the vaccine is not yet in India, we also wrote that we found several vendors selling it on IndiaMart at different prices.

We pointed out how IndiaMart has other vendors selling Dengvaxia to show that even in the ecommerce website alone, we were also confused with the huge differences in the prices of the vaccine. What we failed to note in our first article, though, was how unreliable the ecommerce website looked when it has vendors promoting the same product with a glaring disparity in their selling prices.

Atty. Cabado also used the same 12-rupee price tag when he talked about Dengvaxia in his December 8 post on Facebook.

It was another netizen who brought our article to his attention, which got them started on a debate over why IndiaMart had vendors selling the dengue vaccine in India. To this, the netizen pointed out that it was “easy to make a counterfeit.”

Now, the fact that we learned how Astellas Pharma’s name was used by a scammer/poser to sell what they claimed to be Dengvaxia for only 12 rupees a piece made it all the more clear that not all the vendors and all the products sold on IndiaMart can be trusted.

Other netizens also questioned why other companies aside from Sanofi would be selling Dengvaxia when it is patented by the French pharmaceutical company.

And this is true, Dengvaxia, or CYD-TDV, touted as the world’s first dengue vaccine, was indeed patented, as mentioned in this NCBI article published in February 2017.

The price tag of 12 rupees a piece of Dengvaxia vaccine in India is fake, considering how the vendor selling it is a poser that used the name of the real pharma company, Astellas Pharma India Private Limited. India’s health ministry has not approved for selling in India, so those who are selling the vaccine must be checked thoroughly as they might turn out to be posers and scammers, too.

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Busted: Walang kasalanan ang Tulfo brothers ayon sa imbestigasyon? It’s a misleading headline!

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An article has claimed that an investigation has found the Tulfo brothers to be not guilty. It says, “Lumabas Sa Imbestigasyon Na Walang Kasalanan Ang Tulfo Brothers,” as published by the website phworkit.top.

The story was even shared by Facebook pages “Ferdinand Emmanual Edralin Marcos” and “Rody Duterte MEDIA.”

However, the article merely contained a 10-minute YouTube video, which was a mix several video clips of different reports, some parts of which touched on the issues involving the P60 million tourism ads that aired on the PTV program of Teo’s brothers, the Tulfos.

One of the video clips showed that the CNN Philippines reported on why nepotism is considered corruption and abused of authority in the case of now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda and how her husband, Roberto Teo, served as the board member of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). But Roberto was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III and has tendered his resignation from TIEZA effective June 30, 2018.

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Another video clip showing a CNN Philippines report of a Malacañang press briefing, where a reporter asked Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque if Communications Secretary Martin Andanar would be among those investigated in the controversial placement of P60 million worth of tourism ads on the program of the Tulfos, who are Teo’s brothers, leading people to raise the issue of conflict of interest. As the PCOO chief, he also supervises the state-run PTV-4, where the Tulfos’ programs are a blocktimer.

Asked by yet another reporter what President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment was on the issue with the DOT and the Tulfos, Roque said that he did not know then because he had not talked to the President for a while and the investigation conducted by the Office of the President was ongoing then.

The headline used in the video is misleading. It meant to make people think that the Tulfo brothers have been cleared from the issue involving them with the controversial P60-million tourism ad deal.

However, reports showed that even after Teo resigned from her post on May 7, the Ombudsman will still continue with the probe into the scandal. The body requested from the Commission on Audit (COA) a copy of its DOT report involving the controversial P60-million worth of payments for ads aired on PTV on May 8. The investigation is still ongoing, which meant that they it has not yet cleared the Tulfos.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea is also said to be investigating the scandal to determine the officials at fault at the DOT, People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI), and the PCOO.

Ramon Tulfo, an Inquirer columnist, came out in the defense of his sister Teo and blamed  his younger brother Ben Tulfo for the controversy.

Party-list group Akbayan, however, said it was not enough for Teo to step down from her post. They wanted her to be prosecuted.

“The simple firing or resignation of corrupt officials will not put a stop to corruption in the government if this is not followed by swift prosecution and conviction,” the group said in a statement.

Akbayan also challenged President Duterte to file cases against Ben and Erwin Tulfo over the controversial ad transaction. Ben owns Bitag Media, which produced the PTV show “Kilos Pronto,” the program where the DOT ads were aired. His brother, Erwin, co-hosts the show with him.

Sources: ( newsinfo.inquirer.ne , thestandard.com.ph , cnnphilippines.com , rappler.com , news.abs-cbn.com , businessmirror.com.ph )

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Busted: Legarda sinumbatan si Robredo na mag-resign bago pa lumabas ang resulta na panalo si Marcos? Misleading headline!

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Senator Loren Legarda allegedly confronted Vice President Leni Robredo and asked her to resign before the results would show former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the winner.

The video was posted by blog dailydu30.info on May 15, 2018. The vice presidential vote recount is still ongoing, so the headline must have been referring to the result of the recount. It also made it seem as though Legarda is telling Robredo that she is certain that Marcos would emerge as the winner in the recount.

The YouTube video is 20-minute long and Legarda’s face was immediately shown at the beginning of the video. However, if you finish watching it, you’d know immediately that the video was not taken recently. In fact, it showed a portion of the budget hearing for 2017 for the Office of the Vice President. Further research showed that the hearing was conducted in front of the Senate panel on August 22, 2017 and it lasted less than an hour before it was approved. Robredo herself attended the budget hearing to present an overview of the OVP’s plans for 2018.

Legarda served as the Senate panel’s chair.

During the hearing, Robredo reported how the OVP spent its funds, mainly for poverty alleviation.

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that following the presentation on the fund allocation of the OVP, Legarda asked Robredo to send them a yearlong report on the needs of the sectors and areas that the OVP has reached while promising to help out on fulfilling those needs.

So unlike what the headline claimed, Legarda did not tell Robredo to resign from her VP post to make way for Marcos’ imminent victory. The headline is misleading and is merely playing with people’s emotions and gullibility.

However, Facebook page “Sara Duterte Worldwide Supporters” still shared it without verifying the headline’s claims.

There have been several fake stories involving Marcos and Robredo and the VP vote recount that we have busted. We debunked a misleading headline claiming that Marcos has already won, that Marcos won by 1,786 votes over Robredo, that Robredo would perform her tasks as VP until Marcos takes over, and that Marcos will replace Robredo.

Sources: ( philstar.comnewsinfo.inquirer.net )

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Busted: Hollywood actor laughed at Robredo for copying his Independence Day movie speech? It’s fake news!

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After Vice President Leni Robredo’s recent “Free the Courts” speech at UP Diliman on May 7, articles abound about how a Hollywood actor laughed at her for copying his speech in a movie.

Actor Bill Pullman, who played the role of a fictional US president in the movie Independence Day, allegedly laughed at the Philippine VP for copying the speech he made during the movie. This is according to the May 8 story on the blog philippineinsidernews.blogspot.com.

The story was also picked up by other blogs, such as balita1.altervista.org, weblogph.tk, and realspotnews.info and shared by Facebook pages, such as Philippine News Courier, Trending News Today, and Like for Donations, among others.

Based on these stories online, Pullman was said to have reacted to a meme made by blogger RJ Nieto, a.k.a. Thinking Pinoy, comparing Pullman’s character’s speech and Robredo’s speech. The actor was shown to have tweeted his reaction to TP’s meme, saying “Creative and very well done. Gave me a good laught this morning.” It was also time-stamped “20m,” marking that the screenshot was made 20 minutes after the tweet went live.

While the time-stamp made it seem like Pullman’s alleged tweet was made recently, it actually wasn’t. The text in Pullman’s tweet that was used in the story above was real, but he posted that tweet in reaction to a completely different thing, not Robredo’s speech. He tweeted that on February 22, 2018 when he reacted to a YouTube video “Lone Starr A Spaceballs TEASER. – Han Solo a Star Wars Story Style.”

But the misleading story did not end there! It even had a Part Two bearing the title “Robredo Won’t Apologize for Copying Bill Pullman Speech at Independence Day Movie” published on May 9 by the same blog, philippineinsidernews.blogspot.com.

In this story, statements were attributed to Robredo’s spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez, who allegedly reacted to Pullman’s reaction to Robredo’s speech.

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“The OVP [Office of the Vice President] categorically deny allegations that VP Leni Robredo copied her recent speech from the movie Independence Day. The message might be the same, but the difference in words is very obvious. The vice president also spoke from her heart, and there was no prepared speech for her.”

“The vice president believes that the accusation is only a strategy of her critics to divert the public’s attention from the real issue. It is very clear that the present administration is doing everything to silent its critics, and is using the Constitution in the wrong way. Therefore, the vice president needs to fight against the dictatorship.”

But in Rappler’s fact-checking report, Hernandez denied making the statements above.

“Those statements did not come from me. Definitely fake news,” she said in a text message to Rappler.

While there are similarities in Robredo’s speech and Pullman’s speech while playing his character in the movie, Pullman did not make a reaction over this. His February 2018 tweet was edited to mislead people. Robredo, unlike the claims of the second part of the story, also did not react to this fake news involving Pullman.

This is not the first fake story that the Facebook page Philippine News Courier has helped spread on social media. The said page also shared the fake stories about the late Playboy founder Hugh Heffner donating $5 million to Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, the Supreme Court ordering Kris Aquino to return Imelda Marcos’ diamond necklace, former Senator Bongbong Marcos leading over Robredo by 1,786 votes in the first week of the VP vote recount, and more. The page is also associated to the fake news site philnewscourier.blogspot.com.

Sources: ( www.rappler.comtwitter.com )

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