Zostavax is a vaccine widely used for the prevention of shingles or the
Herpes Zoster virus. Zostavax is one of two FDA-approved vaccines. The
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults over the age
of 60 receive a vaccine to prevent shingles. However, there are now nearly
5,000 lawsuits claiming that Zostavax can cause shingles and other related
injuries. On August 2, 2018, many of the Zostavax lawsuits were combined
into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL is a federal legal procedure
designed to coordinate and consolidate complex pretrial proceedings into
What Is Shingles and What Are the Risks?
Nearly 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed per year. Shingles occurs
in about one out of every three people. It usually appears in people over
the age of 50. Shingles is the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus,
which also causes chicken pox. Most people who have had chicken pox have
this virus lying dormant in their nervous systems. This virus will often
reactivate with age and in people with weakened immunity and manifests
itself as a painful rash (or blisters) on the skin. In about one in five
patients, the virus will cause Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is
chronic pain that can last for months or years.
What Is Zostavax?
Merck & Co. introduced the Zostavax vaccine in 2006. In 2016, Merck
saw $518 million in sales (the sixth highest sales of all FDA-approved
vaccines). Zostavax is a “live” vaccine, which means it contains
a mild or weakened form of the zoster virus. Studies showed that Zostavax
was approximately 51% effective in adults over the age of 50. However,
Zostavax allegedly caused shingles in some patients and resulted in PHN,
nerve damage and other injuries. In October of 2017, the FDA-approved
a second vaccine for the zoster virus called Shingrix, made by GlaxoSmithKline.
Unlike Zostavax, Shingrix is not a live vaccine, so patients do not risk
developing shingles. Instead, Shingrix is a recombinant vaccine that produces
a 90% effective immune response (for four years) to the shingles virus.
People have filed lawsuits against Merck for failing to warn of the potential
side-effects of Zostavax. The lawsuits also address the safety and effectiveness
of Zostavax. In 2014, the FDA required that Merck include ‘shingles’
and ‘chicken pox’ as possible side-effects of Zostavax. In
2016, the FDA required the addition of potential eye-disorders, or ‘necrotizing
Zostavax injuries may include:
- Shingles (herpetic neuralgia)
- PHN (postherpetic neuralgia)
- Chicken pox
- Vision problems (necrotizing retinitis)
- Bell’s palsy
- Autoimmune disorders
- Hearing loss
- Myelitis (spinal cord inflammation)
- Cardiovascular problems
Have You or a Family Member Had Serious Side Effects from Zostavax?
If you have experienced symptoms such as those listed above, you should
immediately report to the Vaccine Event Reporting System (run by the CDC).
Their phone number is (800) 822-7967. You should also contact your doctor.
People who believe that Zostavax caused them serious injury can also call
an attorney. Brett Oppenheimer is a respected
Louisville dangerous drug lawyer who has been closely involved in multidistrict litigations involving the
pharmaceutical industry. Brett will evaluate your potential claim and
work with you to decide the best course of action to take against Merck & Co.
Simply fill out the form on this page
or call Brett at (502) 242-8877 to get started today.