July 19, 2017 — Merck & Co. has been sued by a group of 18 people in 11 states who suffered severe side effects of Zostavax, a vaccine against shingles that can potentially cause shingles.
Lawyers accuse Merck of downplaying the fact that the live virus in Zostavax can potentially cause serious infections.
The risks of Zostavax include shingles, as well as devastating complications like Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN), nerve damage, chronic pain, paralysis, blindness, or death.
Zostavax was approved by the FDA in 2006, but it was not until 2014 that “shingles” and “chickenpox” were added to the list of side effects.
There were 36 deaths and 1,111 serious injuries from Zostavax were reported to the FDA by September 2015. According to the lawsuit:
“Merck downplayed the serious and dangerous side effects of its product to encourage sales of the product; consequently, Merck placed its profits above its customers’ safety.”
Merck is also accused of inadequately informing patients and healthcare providers that Zostavax only works about 51% of the time and loses effectiveness within 5 years. Zostavax has “almost no remaining preventative effects after 7 years,” according to the CDC.
The label on Zostavax also does not mention that it is even less likely to prevent shingles if given too closely together with other vaccines.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are from Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed on July 11 in the Superior Court of New Jersey (Middlesex County) — In RE: Tammy Anderson et al v. Merck & Co Inc. et al — Case No. L-4177-17.
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