WHAT IS ZOSTAVAX?
Zostavax, licensed by the FDA in 2006, is a vaccine used to protect against the shingles virus. The vaccine was developed by Merck Pharmaceuticals and contains a live but weakened version of varicella zoster—the virus that causes shingles and chickenpox. The FDA recommends the vaccine to adults aged 50 years or older who are otherwise healthy and aren’t immuno-compromised.
When a patient gets the vaccine, it is supposed to increase their immunity so that if they do contract the shingles virus, it won’t be as painful or severe as it would be without the vaccine. Merck claims that Zostavax prevents shingles outbreaks in about 50% of patients. However, some research suggests that the number of patients who benefit from the vaccine is far lower than advertised. In fact, the vaccine has proven to be unsafe to patients and has resulted in serious complications. As a result, there are active lawsuits against Merck & Co Inc. Pharmaceuticals for their problematic vaccine.
If you or a loved one are over 50, received a vaccine for shingles since 2006, and suffered a shingles outbreak or other serious complications within a year of receiving that vaccine, you may have a claim against Merck Pharmaceuticals for your injuries. Contact the attorneys at Price Armstrong to see if you qualify to participate in this lawsuit.
WHAT IS THE SHINGLES VIRUS?
The shingles virus causes a painful rash in patients affected by it. The rash can occur anywhere on the body, but most often appears as a single stripe of blisters on the left or right side of the torso. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. This means that if a patient has had chickenpox in the past, the virus may reactivate as shingles years later. Although it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be quite painful because the skin lesions correspond to sensory nerves.
WHO CAN GET THE SHINGLES VIRUS?
Shingles is most common in people over 50 years of age, but people of all ages can get the virus. It is not possible to contract the shingles virus if you have never been exposed to chickenpox or the varicella virus that causes it. However, it is possible for someone with shingles to spread the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox. In this case, the infected person would get chickenpox, not shingles.
The virus that causes shingles belongs to a group of viruses called herpes viruses. These viruses can hide in the nervous system and can remain dormant for many years until they reactivate and cause a new, active infection. There are many factors that may cause varicella zoster to reactivate and begin to attack the immune system. These factors include anything that causes a weakened immune system:
- Older age
- Some diseases such as certain cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, diabetes and HIV or AIDS
- Cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Stress or trauma
- Certain medications and immunosuppressive drugs used by patients after an organ transplant
CAN ZOSTAVAX CAUSE SHINGLES?
Zostavax can cause shingles. In fact, many patients experienced severe shingles outbreaks after getting the Zostavax vaccine. Some patients experienced more serious side effects from the vaccine including:
- Hearing loss
- Brain damage
- Fatal liver failure
- Herpes encephalitis
- Optical nerve damage
- Kidney and liver damage
- Bell’s palsy
- Guillain Barre Syndrome
Since the Zostavax vaccine is often given to patients over 50 and many of them already have weakened immune systems, it leaves them more susceptible to contracting other more serious illnesses. Also, because the vaccine contains a live virus, it puts patients at a higher risk of having an outbreak.
Unfortunately, Merck Pharmaceuticals didn’t change the labeling for Zostavax to warn users it could cause shingles until 2014, eight years after introducing it to the market. The warning was too late for many patients as they had already started experiencing the severe side effects of the vaccine. Furthermore, the vaccine isn’t very effective—it only works about 50% of the time—and if it does work, immunity will only last for a few years.
ZOSTAVAX LAWSUIT STATUS
Plaintiffs began filing lawsuits for injuries linked to Zostavax in 2018. In August 2018, a federal court consolidated 57 federal cases into one joint proceeding in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Dozens of other cases have been filed in states around the country, but the primary litigation against Merck for Zostavax will now take place in Pennsylvania.
The case is still in its early stage, as lawyers for patients affected by Zostavax seek to prove to the Court that Zostavax is defective, that Merck knew it was defective and hid that information from patients in order to keep selling Zostavax with only minimal warning of its dangerous side effects, and that many plaintiffs have injuries that were caused by the vaccine. As information about the serious complications associated with Zostavax has come to light, thousands of patients have come forward to participate in lawsuits against Merck to recover for their injuries.
HOW TO FILE A ZOSTAVAX LAWSUIT
If you or a loved one received a Zostavax vaccination and suffered severe complications in the weeks or months after receiving it, the first and most important step is to contact an experienced attorney to help you assess whether you should pursue a claim in the Zostavax lawsuit. The lawyers at Price Armstrong are happy to talk to you and help you determine if you have the potential to be compensated for your injuries.
When you contact us, we will need to collect some basic information to determine whether you can pursue a Zostavax claim.
Some of the information we will need to know includes:
- Whether you received Zostavax. Most patients with claims likely received a shingles vaccine between 2006 and 2016, and they likely received it from a pharmacist.
- Whether you had serious side effects or complications in the months after receiving the vaccine. Patients who experienced a new shingles outbreak after the vaccination or serious complications such as loss of vision, loss of hearing, lung injury, cardiac injuries, brain inflammation (encephalitis), some autoimmune diseases and postherpetic neuralgia pain (severe nerve pain) may have injuries that were caused by Zostavax. To be eligible, you must not have had these injuries before being vaccinated with Zostavax.
- If you were suffering from immune suppression at the time you received your Zostavax vaccination (as a result of an immune deficiency, cancer treatment, or something similar) or if you already had shingles before receiving the vaccine, you will likely not be able to pursue a claim for Zostavax injuries.
In the event that you win a Zostavax lawsuit, we may be able to help you recover compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Custodial care
- Medical costs
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost earnings
For more information, be sure to contact us today so that we can prepare and present the best possible case for your Zostavax claim.
CONTACT US FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION
If you have been affected by the Zostavax vaccine, contact the attorneys at Price Armstrong. We can help you seek justice and protect your rights throughout the process. Call us today at (205) 208-9588 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. Let us fight for you – call now!