Shingles is a major public health concern. Ninety-five percent of adults are at risk of developing shingles, and over time, about one-third of the American population will get it. Serious health effects and complications are possible if shingles is not treated.
Older people and those with weak immune systems are most likely to develop shingles. In this context, it’s no surprise that every effort would be made to prevent shingles.
Zostavax, the first vaccine ever approved by the FDA as a means to prevent shingles, was put forward as a potential weapon in this fight. It was intended for patients 50 years old and older. Over time serious problems have become associated with its use.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox (varicella zoster). The virus can lie dormant in nerve tissue for years, held in check by the body’s defenses.
However, if your immune system becomes weakened due to illness, or simply advancing age, the virus can become active. This causes red, painful rash or blisters along one side of the body.
Zostavax first received FDA approval in 2006. In the first years after its introduction, enough side effects were observed to prompt some changes to the drug’s warning label. The first came in 2014, when it was noted that the vaccine had the potential to cause chicken pox and, more ironically, shingles.
Although these side effects were clearly unwelcome in a vaccine being marketed to seniors to prevent shingles, issues of greater concern lay ahead.
In February of 2016, the FDA approved a label change warning that Zostavax had another potential side effect: acute necrotizing retinitis (ARN), or inflammation of the eye.
The possible consequences of ARN include:
- Eye redness
- Pain caused by light exposure (photophobia)
- Floaters or flashes
- Vision loss in one eye
The cause of these side effects is not fully understood, though there has been some association between vaccines and autoimmune diseases such as ARN.
Response from Patients
In subsequent years, Zostavax patients began to file lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, Merck & Co. These include cases in state and federal courts.
The injuries that plaintiffs claim to have sustained include “blindness in one eye,” a possible consequence of the ARN side effect acknowledged by Merck.
Are You Affected?
If you believe that you have suffered eye damage and are in need of a Zostavax injury lawyer, Meyers & Flowers is exceptionally well qualified to assess your case and to guide you through the legal processes involved in pursuing damages.
Experience is Everything
Our staff have extensive experience with cases involving dangerous drugs and the legal and scientific issues relating to their approval, marketing and clinical use. These issues are complex, and a successful case depends on deep familiarity with their technical aspects and the best ways to discuss them and present them in the context of a legal proceeding.
The physical harm you have experienced is suffering enough. Our Zostafax injury lawyer at Meyers & Flowers stands ready to assist you to take the first step towards seeking justice with a free case consultation.