Tuesday, April 04, 2017 by Ethan Huff
Commercials for the jab showing happy people free of shingles are a common feature of television advertising. But Merck & Co’s “Zosatavax” vaccine to prevent varicella, the adult version of chickenpox, is causing the international drug giant some serious headaches after numerous people who got the shot suffered injuries and/or death.
Multiple lawsuits are making their way through the court system alleging that Merck’s blockbuster vaccine for shingles isn’t safe, and could cause serious adverse effects. Plaintiffs in the state of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, allege that Zostavax isn’t safe, and are taking to both the state and federal court system to seek justice.
According to Marc Bern of Marc J. Bern & Partners, there have been “thousands of complaints” about Zostavax in Pennsylvania alone. Patient injuries from the vaccine, he says, range from shingles itself, which the vaccine is supposed to prevent, to serious personal injuries such as blindness and paralysis. Other reports of adverse effects from Zostavax include brain damage and death.
“I think Merck has failed terribly … to warn about the very serious side effects and the failure of the vaccine to do what they claim it does,” Bern told FiercePharma.
Merck, which also manufactures the deadly Gardasil vaccine for HPV and cervical cancer, is taking to usual form in full defense of Zostavax. The multinational drug corporation says it “stands behind the demonstrated safety and efficacy” of the shot, which the company has paid tens of millions of dollars to get approved in 50 countries. (RELATED: Find more news about vaccines at Vaccines.news)
More than 36 million doses of Zostavax have been injected into people’s bodies since the vaccine first hit the market in 2006. Merck claims that most of these vaccine injections didn’t cause any problems, and thus constitute a full and complete record of safety, for which the public should be assured.
But the thousands of people who took the shot and are now permanently injured or dead tell a much different story. So many people are filing lawsuits against Merck over Zostavax that Bern would like to see them grouped for mass tort status. Attorney Michael Katz, from the law firm Lopez McHugh, has likewise filed several injury cases in federal court concerning Zostavax, and anticipates hundreds more in the near future.
According to data compiled by the Philadelphia-based law firm, Zostavax is only effective in about 51 percent of people who get the shot. And many of those who receive the vaccine end up getting shingles anyway, based on the numbers, which suggests that the vaccine is neither safe nor effective in the majority of people who receive it, contrary to what Merck continues to claim.
“There is some indication that the vaccination is linked to death,” the Lopez McHugh website contends. “NCIV (The National Vaccine Information Center) analysis indicates that there were more than 1,100 serious adverse event reports made to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System from 1990 until September 2015 related to shingles-containing vaccinations. Of these reports, 90 were for deaths associated with the shingles vaccine.”
Merck must have missed this important data, as it usually does when billions of dollars in profit are on the line. Just in the last year alone, the drug and vaccine behemoth raked in $749 million in sales from Zostavax, so there’s a whole lot to lose from the vaccine potentially losing its approved status due to being a deadly threat.
Sources for this article include: