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April 8, 2019

Zostavax Neuropathy Lawsuit Claims Vaccine Caused Permanent Damage

A recent Zostavax neuropathy lawsuit claims side effects of the shingles vaccine caused a Kentucky woman to develop painful and irreparable nerve damage.

Rita Bishop file the complaint late this past month in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She alleges that Merck & Co. sold a dangerously defective shingles vaccine and deliberately failed to warn about the potential for Zostavax neuropathy and other significant risks.

Bishop received the shingles vaccine Zostavax in October 2012. Over the past decade, older adults have commonly received this vaccine as a preventative measure. But, shortly after the injection, Bishop develop painful peripheral neuropathy and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuritis.

Zostavax received FDA approval in May 2006 for use as a single dose vaccine to prevent shingles in individuals more than 50 years old. It is a more powerful version of the Merck Varivax vaccine for chickenpox. Varivax contains the live varicella zoster virus. Unfortunately, it appears that Merck was using an “under-attenuated” version of the virus. This means the virus was not weakened sufficiently to remain dormant in some users. Consequently, many users experienced longer and more painful shingles outbreaks and other serious infections that have led to permanent injuries.

Bishop alleges that clinical trials of vaccine showed the vaccine’s unreasonably high potential for serious harm, including Zostavax neuropathy. However, the manufacturer concealed the patently defective nature of the vaccine in order to preserve market share at the peril of patients.

“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,” Bishop’s lawsuit states.

Due to striking similarities in the lawsuits pending in the federal court system, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized the litigation for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). Currently, District Judge Harvey Bartle III is presiding over the entirety of the MDL in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Experts following the litigation expect the MDL to continue expanding rapidly as more people continue to discover that they could have avoided Zostavax neuropathy and other serious harm if the manufacturer had issued proper warnings.

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