In an attempt to prevent shingles, some patients may have unintentionally contracted the virus from their shingles vaccination.
Zostavax, the only shingles vaccine currently sold in the U.S., can cause serious injuries, including shingles, blindness, and even death. Injured patients are now filing lawsuits against Zostavax’s manufacturer Merck and its new owner Bayer for failing to warn about the potential side effects.
If you or a loved one were injured by Zostavax, please contact us. Our attorneys are investigating these claims to help patients seek justice.
Zostavax Side Effects
At best, the vaccine only works in 50% of patients, and even then it will only last for about six years.
Zostavax is a shingles vaccine for patients 50 years and older, an age when the virus is more common. It’s caused by dormant chickenpox viruses which can lay in the body’s nervous system for years, eventually creating shingles. The virus is typically characterized by a painful band of blisters on one side of the torso.
Zostavax uses a weakened form of the herpes zoster virus (commonly referred to as shingles), in order to activate the immune system. After fighting the weakened version of the virus, the body builds immunity. At best, the vaccine only works in 50% of patients, and even then it will only last for about six years.
For patients who are immunocompromised, their bodies may not be able to fight off the small dose of the virus. This can cause a host of injuries, including chickenpox and shingles itself.
Lawsuits claim that despite knowing that Zostavax could cause shingles, Merck didn’t list this as a side effect until December 2014—long after the vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006.
The FDA reports that Zostavax side effects can include the following:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Eye disorders, including necrotizing retinitis
Some plaintiffs allege that Zostavax caused even more serious complications, like blindness, paralysis, brain damage, and fatal liver failure.
Merck Accused of Fraudulent MMR Vaccine Testing
Merck scientists accused the company of manipulating clinical test results.
Merck is currently battling another lawsuit for its mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In 2010, two former Merck scientists accused the company of manipulating clinical test results to maintain its U.S. monopoly on the MMR vaccine.
The court documents allege that Merck noticed in the late 1990’s that the vaccine was falling below the 95% efficiency requirement necessary to sell the vaccine. Instead of improving the vaccine though, Merck fudged the clinical trial results—something that the two whistleblowers were asked to participate in.
The former Merck scientists allege that this fraudulent testing may have contributed to the major outbreaks of mumps in 2006 and 2009, since children were receiving weaker vaccinations.
The case is set to go to trial sometime this year.
Similar Vaccine Injuries Have Earned Million-Dollar Settlements
Many pharmaceutical companies are protected under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which requires that patients file injury claims with the federal government. However, Zostavax is not listed in the act’s injury table, allowing injured patients to file lawsuits in court.
Since the creation of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, injured patients have received $3.6 billion. In some cases, injured patients have been able to recover millions for the harm they suffered.
In 2014, Sarah Behie received $4.5 million, with an eventual payout of $11.6 million, after a flu shot left her partially paralyzed. In 2010, she developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare side effect of flu shots in which the immune system attacks the nervous system.
In 2013, U.S. courts paid nearly $6 million for Gardasil, Merck’s HPV vaccination for females aged 9 to 26 years old. The settlement compensated 49 injured patients who suffered from severe side effects, including GBS, seizures, blindness, and even death.
Lawsuits against Merck and Bayer are currently being filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania. As more complaints are filed, they will likely be combined in a mass tort.
Zostavax lawsuits allege some combination of the following:
- Zostavax can cause serious side effects, including death.
- Merck failed to warn patients of the vaccine’s potential side effects.
- Merck employees “intentionally, willfully, and knowingly misrepresented” the safety of Zostavax.
Lawsuit Eligibility and Compensation
If you or a loved one developed shingles, chickenpox, or other injuries after receiving the Zostavax vaccine, you may be eligible for a lawsuit against Merck.
A lawsuit can result in compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Injured by the Shingles Vaccine? We Can Help
ClassAction.com’s attorneys have recovered more than $4 billion against negligent companies, including Big Pharma. If you or a loved one were injured or died because of the Zostavax vaccine, we can help you hold Merck accountable.