The Shingles Vaccine Zostavax is all but harmless, at least according to the storm of lawsuits that recently hit many U.S. federal and state courts. A serious risk to public safety was, in fact, deliberately concealed by the manufacturer, who sold the shingles vaccine to countless unaware patients. Thousands who were injected with the drug suffered from serious adverse reactions including nerve damage, paralysis, blindness or even contracted the same diseases they had to be protected against.
If you are among the unfortunate ones who had to deal with the tragic consequences of receiving a Zostavax shot, you have the right to sue the manufacturers for damage. Contact us now: we can provide you with a free case evaluation help you find the best attorney available to fight this Zostavax lawsuit on your side.
What Is Zostavax Shingles Vaccine?
In the United States, Merck is the sole manufacturer that in 2006 obtained the approval to market a shingles vaccine: Zostavax. Used to reduce the risk of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), it is also prescribed to prevent chickenpox (varicella virus). It contains an attenuated form of the herpes zoster virus – a live, yet harmless form of the same microorganism that activates the reaction of the immune system against shingles.
The vaccine helps the body fight against the shingles virus that lies dormant inside the nervous system, preventing it from reawakening. A single shot reduces the risk of developing a shingle outbreak by slightly more than 50% for a total of 5 years. Although it is indicated for people aged 50 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommended it for patients over the age of 60. Zostavax protects against shingles especially between 60 and 69 years of age, but keeps being effective even after 70 years. The protection granted by a single immunization shot usually lasts about 5 years, making it necessary to repeat the vaccine several times throughout life.
Should I get the shingles vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all people aged 60 years and older should get Zostavax to prevent the complications of the zoster virus such as PHN. Even if you had chickenpox or shingles already, you should receive the vaccine to minimize the risk of contracting the disease again. Note that, in some cases, the vaccine may cause shingles since it contains a weakened form of the varicella-zoster virus.
How much does the Zostavax vaccine cost?
Generally, the cost of an immunization shot is between $200 and $300. Medicare Parts A and B do not provide coverage for Zostavax, which is, instead, covered by Medicare Part D. Depending on your plan you may have to face some costs in the form of a copayment, or you need to pay it in advance and then get reimbursed for a portion of the price.
Why are plaintiffs claiming that Zostavax is dangerous and starting lawsuits?
Zostavax is one Merck’s most sold drugs ever. With no rivals or alternatives to compete against, the medication earned the corporation $749 million in revenues over the course of a single year, in 2016. What the manufacturer “forgot” to mention to the public, however, was that Zostavax came with an inherent risk of causing the same conditions that it was supposed to prevent – shingles and chickenpox. Although this risk may seem negligible in normal patients, those whose immune system is compromised such as the elderly (to which the Zostavax vaccine is prescribed) are much more vulnerable than usual.
The consequences of this infection may be severe, and range from a highly contagious rash occurring on one side of the body associated with fever and pain, to other, much more serious side effects. The virus, may, in fact, threaten the very lives of the frailest subjects (once again: The elderly), and even cause permanent nerve damage, blindness, paralysis, meningitis, and even spinal cord inflammation. If you have suffered any side effects from Zostavax you may be entitled to start a Zostavax lawsuit and sue the manufacturer.
What are the serious side effects of Zostavax?
Usually, the side effects of Zostavax are quite mild, and range from pain and itching at the injection site, to headaches and local chickenpox-like rashes. Since the vaccine contains a weakened form of the herpes zoster virus, there’s a small chance it may also cause shingles. However, some patients who filed a Zostavax lawsuit reported suffering from much more serious side effects, including:
- Hearing loss
- Nerve pain and peripheral neuropathy
- Spinal cord damage
- Cardiovascular problems
- Vision problems
- Bell’s Palsy
- Congestive Heart failure
Merck’s fraudulent behaviors and Zostavax adverse reactions for shingles patients
As of May 31, 2018, a review of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) found an outstanding total of 42,604 adverse reaction reports associated with Zostavax . These reports included an alarming number of hospitalizations (850), disabilities (660) and even 128 shingles vaccine death cases. The University of Missouri-Columbia also found a link between the Zostavax vaccine and a serious corneal inflammation (keratitis) which may lead to permanent blindness. Especially in patients aged 60 or more, Zostavax is an extremely dangerous substance that should be injected with great care.
The drugmaker, however, failed to warn the public about these dangers, exposing millions to unnecessary risks and damages. According to many court cases, the manufacturer Merck was fully aware that Zostavax could cause shingles. However, they willfully chose to wait until December 2014 before changing the warning label to list it as a side effect – eight years after the FDA approved Zostavax for marketing. Once again, an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company put its profit over people’s health, causing an enormous number of unnecessary shingles cases to increase the sales of its product.
This is not the first time that Merck’s behavior is all but transparent, on the other hand. Back in 2010, two former company virologists, Joan A. Wlochowski and Stephen A. Krahling, filed a whistleblower lawsuit after running the safety and effectiveness tests for the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR). In their claim, most civil action cases they allege that the corporation fraudulently requested them to manipulate the results of the clinical trials to keep its American market share for the vaccines.
The Zostavax Lawsuit Multidistrict Litigation (MDL No. 2848)
Many patients who suffered the dire consequences of being injected with Zostavax vaccine, later decided to file a civil action lawsuit against Merck & Co. to seek monetary compensation. The manufacturer had the duty to thoroughly test the drug’s safety before releasing it to the general market, and is thus liable for any damage it might cause to the public. Plaintiffs allege that Merck voluntarily withheld precious information from the public regarding the alleged risks of the Zostavax vaccine, negligently designed and tested the product, and promoted it with a misleading and fraudulent campaign.
To speed up the litigation, on Aug. 2, 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered the consolidation of 98 Zostavax lawsuits under the umbrella of a single product liability litigation, MDL number 2848. The cases will be centralized under the supervision of Honorable Judge Harvey Bartle III in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who already handled many mass torts and MDL cases. The order does not apply to the cases issued by another 800 plaintiffs in New Jersey state court and 300 plaintiffs in California state court who filed a Zostavax lawsuit.
We can help you today
By filing a lawsuit against Merck & co., you’re actively defending your right to get compensated for all the damage you may have suffered. The manufacturer was bound by law to tell the truth to the American public about the risk of contracting the shingles virus after being injected with Zostavax, and warn all consumers about the alleged risks. If they voluntarily withheld critical information that caused health problems in any patient, they must be held responsible, and pay in full. All cases that are successful in court have a chance to receive monetary compensation for:
- Pain and suffering caused by any non-described side effect or personal injury
- Loss of consortium
- Wages lost
- Medical bills or any medical expense sustained
If you or a loved one received the Zostavax shingles immunization shot and developed the same conditions it was intended to prevent (shingles virus), or any other serious complication such as vision or hearing loss, permanent nerve damage or loss of balance, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We will help you find the right lawyer, start a shingles vaccine lawsuit and sue the manufacturer to get the compensation you deserve.