In one of the newest lawsuits against the drug Zostavax and its manufacturer Merck & Co., a Florida man filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. In the lawsuit, the man alleges shortly after receiving the Zostavax shingles vaccination, he sustained numerous injuries as a result of side effects from the vaccine.
Based on the complaint filed by the plaintiff, it stated he received the Zostavax shingles vaccination on March 30, 2016 while on a visit to his family doctor. According to information from the FDA, the vaccine was approved in May 2006 to help prevent shingles in patients 60 or over, and later had its guidelines expanded to include patients age 50 or over.
For those who may not be familiar with shingles, it is an extremely painful nerve-based rash caused by the herpes zoster virus, which is the identical virus that causes chickenpox. As a result, those who had chickenpox as children have the virus lingering in their systems, where it can reemerge later as shingles. Thus, the Zostavax shingles vaccine contains a small amount of the live herpes zoster virus, which if properly activated creates an immune reaction to protect the patient against shingles. However, based on the complaint filed by the plaintiff, rather than protecting him against shingles, the vaccine instead gave him shingles.
Several days after receiving the vaccine, the plaintiff stated he began to experience numbness and tingling, along with a burning sensation in his hands. A short time later, he developed a painful rash and numerous blisters on his shoulders and back. Thus, two weeks after receiving the vaccine, he visited his family doctor and was diagnosed with shingles. Afterwards, he was sent to a neurologist, where after various tests he was found to have suffered nerve damage due to shingles.
Based on his diagnosis, he thus filed his lawsuit, claiming that because of the Zostavax vaccine he received for shingles, he suffered injuries and damages that required extensive medical treatment. According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the major component of the suit against Merck & Co. is that the vaccine’s label, patient information sheet, and other related information failed to address the risk of viral infection. Based on information obtained during clinical trials for the vaccine, Merck noted shingles was a frequent occurrence in patients who participated in the clinical trials. However, this information was not included on the patient information sheet. Instead, it simply stated the vaccine could result in itching and a rash at the injection site.
In addition to the painful rash and blistering that can occur, shingles can also have many other complications associated with it, including vision and hearing impairment, scarring, pneumonia, and encephalitis. According to the plaintiff, Merck failed to exercise an “ordinary standard of care” due to it having prior knowledge the vaccine could lead to various complications. As a result of the side effects he experienced from the vaccine, he states he will have a greatly reduced quality of life, and will require ongoing medical care and treatment for many years.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff is charging Merck with negligent misrepresentation, failure to warn, breach of warranties, design defect, and unjust enrichment, and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages. As expected, Merck is denying the allegations, stating the vaccine has been used safely on thousands of patients, and in no way led to the complications experienced by the plaintiff. However, due to the complexities associated with vaccine injury cases such as this, it is expected to take several months at a minimum before a verdict is reached.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a vaccine injury, please contact the Law Firm of Sadaka Associates today.