Zostavax Shingles Vaccine Lawsuit

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Trying to understand the Zostavax Shingles Vaccine Lawsuit?  Zostavax is a vaccine designed to prevent shingles, an extremely painful rash similar to chickenpox. This vaccine, approved by the FDA in May 2006 for adults 50 years old and over, is manufactured by Merck & Co.  The sales data indicates that Zostavax earned Merck & Co. as much as over $600 Million each year.  It is estimated that the Zostavax Shingles Vaccine has made Merck & Co. billions of dollars.

After approval, the FDA began receiving reports that Americans were suffering complications as a result of the Zostavax Shingles Vaccine.  Thousands of injuries were reported ranging from shingles, postherpetic neuralgia, nerve damage, vision loss, hearing loss, vertigo/imbalance, heart attacks, strokes, and even death.  These injuries have been seen as early as days after the vaccine and as late as six months after.  The injuries can resolve over time or be permanent.

Shingrix is a new shingles vaccine that was approved by the FDA in 2018.  Shingrix is considered to be safer and more effective than Zostavax.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control has recommended that Americans ask their pharmacist for Shingrix over Zostavax.

The Potts Law Firm is currently accepting cases for individuals who suffered complications from the Zostavax shingles vaccine. If you or a loved one suffered complications from the Zostavax shingles vaccine, contact The Potts Law Firm for a free legal consultation.

  • Shingles
  • Postherpetic Neuralgia (the burning that continues long after the shingles rash clears)
  • Nerve Pain
  • Vision Loss
    • Retinitis (nerve damage to the eye’s retina)
    • Retinal Necrosis
  • Hearing Loss
  • Vertigo & Inner Ear Nerve Damage
  • Cardiovascular Injuries
    • Heart Attack
    • Stroke
  • Neurological Infections
    • Meningitis (nerve damage or inflammation to the brain and spinal cord)
    • Encephalitis (nerve damage or inflammation to the brain)
  • Disseminated Varicella (when the shingles virus spreads to other organs)
  • Secondary bacterial infections from the shingles rash
  • Death
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Zostavax® harmful? How does the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine cause complications?

Zostavax® is a live, attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains a mutated form of a live virus that is supposed to trick the body into thinking it has the virus, which in turn boosts the body’s immune system.  Because shingles (herpes zoster) is an infection caused by chickenpox (varicella zoster), Zostavax® contains a weakened version of the chickenpox virus. When the Zostavax® vaccine is administered to a patient, the body’s immune system should react by creating antibodies to fight off the live virus.

In some instances, the immune system is not strong enough to fight off the varicella zoster virus. Introducing the chickenpox virus to a weakened immune system can cause a patient to contract shingles or experience other serious complications. Patients with compromised immune systems are discouraged from getting the Zostavax® vaccine.



What is the difference between Zostavax® and Shingrix?

While both vaccines have been approved by the FDA to help prevent the occurrence of shingles, the CDC has recommend GlaxoSmithKline’s new Shingrix vaccine above Merck & Co.’s Zostavax® vaccine.

Shingrix is a non-live vaccine which is administered into muscle tissue in two separate doses (2-6 months apart), while Zostavax® is a live virus vaccine administered as a one-time injection under the skin.

Shingrix has proven to be more effective at preventing shingles than Zostavax®, reducing risks in patients 50 years and older by 89.1-97% compared to Zostavax’s 18-69.8%.

Shingrix also cannot infect the patient with the actual virus since it is not live.  Whereas Zostavax can.

What is shingles?

Shingles is painful rash caused by the varicella virus. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus remains in your body’s nerve tissue. When your immune system is weakened because of disease, age, or some other stressor, the varicella can travel along the nerve fibers to your skin, causing shingles (herpes zoster).

What are the complications of shingles?

The most common complication of shingles is post herpetic neuralgia (PHN), effecting about 1 out of 5 people with shingles. Those who experience PHN may feel pain, tingling, itching, burning, or stabbing sensations after their shingles rash has healed. Post herpetic neuralgia lasts only a few months in some patients while permanently affecting others.

Those who develop shingles on or around the eyes, forehead, or nose are at an increased risk for pain and permanent vision loss. Shingles in your eyes may also cause damage to the nerves and glaucoma.

Shingles on or around the ears creates a risk for tinnitus, hearing loss, loss of face movement, balance issues, and earaches.

Shingles can lead to lung, brain, and liver inflammation and even death in rare cases.

What is Zostavax®?

Zostavax® is a vaccine created by Merck & Co. which was approved for sales in the U.S. by the FDA in May 2006.

The Zostavax® vaccine is intended to reduce the risk of contracting shingles, an extremely painful rash similar to chickenpox. Zostavax® contains a live, mutated variety of the chickenpox virus which is meant to boost immune system tolerance, making it harder to contract Shingles. The Zostavax® vaccine is usually given to adults 50 years and older and is administered as a one-dose shot.

Why choose The Potts Law Firm Zostavax® lawyers?

Vaccine cases are very complex, requiring the most skilled lawyers for successful litigation. Our team has a proven track record of national results:

  • Our attorneys have been at the forefront of the Zostavax® litigation

On September 25, 2018, Potts Law Firm attorney Adam T. Funk was appointed by The Honorable Harvey Bartle III to lead the Zostavax® Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in Philadelphia. The MDL consolidates all lawsuits filed across the nation relating to the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine and injuries suffered due to the vaccine.

  • Our dangerous drug and vaccine lawyers will thoroughly investigate your Zostavax® case:

We will request medical records on your behalf and our experienced medical team will analyze the records and assist your lawyers throughout the case. In addition, a legal professional will be available to assist you with the entire process.

  • We have successfully recovered billions on behalf of our clients:

Our results speak for themselves. We have successfully litigated on behalf of thousands of victims who were harmed from dangerous drugs and medical devices. We will stop at nothing until you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries.

What is the status of Zostavax® lawsuits?

Numerous Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine lawsuits have been filed across the nation against Merck & Co. In April 2018, Merck & Co. requested that these lawsuits be consolidated into one court – also called a multi-district litigation (MDL).

On August 2, 2018, the MDL Judicial Panel created MDL number 2848 which consolidated over 100 Zostavax® lawsuits and assigned them to the United States District Court of Pennsylvania under The Honorable Judge Harvey Bartle III.

On September 25, 2018, The Honorable Harvey Bartle III appointed the Plaintiff Steering Committee to the Zostavax® MDL. Members include Potts Law Firm Partner Adam T. Funk, who was also appointed to the Plaintiffs Executive Committee.

What are FDA side effects related to Zostavax®?

According to the FDA, Zostavax® side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Hives at injection site
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Rash
Can Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine lead to death?

Yes. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NCIV), more than 1,100 serious adverse events related to Zostavax® shingles vaccine were reported. At least 90 of these were deaths associated with the shingles vaccine.

Does my Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine case qualify?

The Potts Law Firm is representing those injured by the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine.  To qualify for representation, your case must meet the following parameters:

  • You received the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine in 2006 or later;
  • You were at least 50 years old when you were injected with the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine;
  • Your injury began shortly after you received the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine but not more than one year after the injection; and
  • You did not suffer from any immunocompromising conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, or blood disorders, at the time of your injection of the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine.
How do I file a Zostavax® lawsuit?

You should definitely allow an attorney to file your lawsuit for you.  There are many legal hurdles and potholes that a lawsuit encounters that only an experienced attorney knows how to handle.  Contacting a law firm about your Zostavax case will provide you with all the answers you need about your potential case.

Is there a time limit to file my Zostavax® lawsuit?

Yes.  Every state has a statute of limitations that determines by when you must file your lawsuit.  It is extremely important that you contact a lawyer to discuss this deadline.

How do I know if I have shingles?

Shingles is a very painful rash that is caused by the varicella zoster virus.  Shingles typically occurs on one side of the body and usually occurs on the trunk.  However, shingles can also appear on any spot of your body, including your face, arms, and legs.

Can Zostavax® cause vision problems?

According to lawsuits, the Zostavax Shingles Vaccine can lead to vision problems such as blindness, eye infections, retinal damage, and acute retinal necrosis (inflammatory condition of the eye).

What are the accusations against Merck & Co. in the Zostavax® lawsuits?

Consumers are holding Merck & Co. accountable for their Zostavax® vaccine injuries by filing product liability claims against the manufacturer. These lawsuits accuse makers of selling a faulty vaccine which can cause serious side effects, including death.

Lawsuits allege Merck & Co. failed to warn patients about Zostavax® potential side effects and even denied that the vaccine could cause shingles. According to the lawsuits, Merck & Co. was dishonest about the safety and effectiveness of Zostavax® and continued to sell Zostavax® even though they knew or should have known that the vaccine could injure people.

What is an MDL?

MDL, or multidistrict litigation, refers to when federal civil cases across the country are consolidated into one court. MDL cases must have at least one point of fact (question to be answered by reference to evidence) in common.

What is the history of the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine?

The Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine is researched, designed, manufactured, and sold by the pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co.

Merck & Co. had previously created the Varivax chickenpox vaccine which contains the live chickenpox virus that is the same virus found in shingles.  The virus is called the varicella zoster virus, or VZV.  To create Zostavax®, Merck & Co. simply copied the Varivax vaccine and increased the dosage of the virus.  The increase of the virus was because Zostavax® would be used in adults whose body mass is larger than children who received the Varivax vaccine.

The vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006 and Merck & Co. immediately began selling Zostavax® to the public.  The sales data indicates that Zostavax® earned Merck & Co. as much as over $600 Million each year.  It is estimated that the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine has made Merck & Co. billions of dollars.

Shortly after approving the vaccine, the FDA began receiving hundreds, and then thousands, of complaints about Zostavax®.  The complaints ranged from injection site complications, such as redness and soreness, to vaccine-caused injuries such as shingles, postherpetic neuralgia (permanent nerve damage), necrotizing retinitis (damage to the retina causing vision loss), inner ear damage (resulting in dizziness and hearing loss), and brain and spinal cord nerve damage caused by the vaccine.

The complaints made relating to the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine caused Merck & Co. to add language to the vaccine’s label that cases of shingles and necrotizing retinitis have been reported.  This additional language, however, was added too late (2014 and 2016, respectively) after millions were injected with Zostavax®.  In addition, the new language was wholly inadequate to warn the public of the possibility of injury due to Zostavax®.

In 2018, the FDA approved a different shingles vaccine by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.  The new vaccine, called Shingrix, was much safer and more effective than Merck & Co.’s Zostavax®.  The increased safety and efficacy was because Shingrix was made by extracting the DNA of the VZV virus and placing it into a fluid to make the vaccine.  By only containing the DNA of the virus, as opposed to the live virus itself, the body is not able to contract the virus.  Shingrix was so much safer and more effective than Zostavax® that immediately after Shingrix was approved by the FDA, the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommended that Americans over the age of 50 should request Shingrix, and not Zostavax®.

Since the CDC’s decision, Zostavax® sales have plummeted.

What injuries are included in Zostavax® lawsuits?

Not only is the Zostavax® Shingles Vaccine not very effective in preventing shingles, it can also lead to very serious side effects. Some of the more serious injuries include:

  • Neurological disorders and brain inflammation
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (lasting burning pain or sensitivity after shingles rash heals)
  • Myelitis (spinal cord inflammation)
  • Bell’s palsy (facial nerve paralysis)
  • Vision problems (blindness, eye infections, retinal damage, and acute retinal necrosis)
  • Hearing loss
  • Autoimmune disorders (Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Ménière’s disease, and more)
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular event
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
  • Pneumonia
  • Death
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