A group of 18 people who developed shingles from the shingles vaccine Zostavax have filed a lawsuit (PDF) against Merck & Co. for failing to warn about the risk of chronic pain and other severe complications.
Zostavax is a shingles vaccine for adults that contains live herpes zoster (shingles) viruses. The viruses are attenuated, meaning they have been “weakened,” but it can still potentially cause infections.
Zostavax has been sold since 2006, but it was not until August 2014 that Merck added “shingles” and “chickenpox” to the list of side effects. Zostavax is not recommended for people who are sick because deaths have been reported as a result of severe infections. Over 1,100 injuries and 36 deaths were reported by September 2015.
The lead plaintiff, Tammy Anderson, is a woman from Louisiana who was immunized with Zostavax at a Walgreens Pharmacy in New Orleans in October 2012. Zostavax did not prevent shingles, but instead caused her to contract a persistent strain of herpes zoster.
All of the plaintiffs suffered similar injuries, including “onset of a blistering vesicular rash accompanied by weakened immune system,” which was diagnosed as herpes zoster (shingles).
Several plaintiffs were prescribed medications like Oxycodone, Valtrex, Neurontin, Lipoderm, Acyclovir, Gabapentin, or Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen (Vicodin) for the management of painful symptoms.
At least three plaintiffs were diagnosed with Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN), a chronic condition of residual nerve damage and pain secondary to shingles. Another plaintiff suffered ongoing and worsening symptoms, accompanied by scarring and residual pain.
The lawsuit was filed on July 11, 2017 in the Superior Court of New Jersey (Middlesex County) — In RE: Tammy Anderson, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., et al. — Case No. MID-L-004177-17.