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According to allegations raised in a recently filed product liability lawsuit, side effects of the Zostavax vaccine not only failed to prevent the development of shingles, but actually resulted in acute heart failure.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Douglas Bannerman in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on October 18, blaming the vaccine manufacturer, Merck & Co. for a host of serious complications he suffered after receiving the shingles vaccine.
According to the lawsuit, Bannerman was inoculated with Zostavax in October 2016, for routine health maintenance and for the purpose of preventing shingles. However, after receiving the vaccine, Bannerman developed a shingles outbreak on his chest, upper back and over his right arm.
“A few weeks later Plaintiff started to experience shortness of breath, fever and dyspnea,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was subsequently diagnosed with acute hypertensive emergency with pulmonary edema and acute heart failure.”
Bannerman’s lawsuit blames the health emergency and heart failure on Zostavax, indicating it was caused by side effects of the live virus contained in the shingles vaccine.
Zostavax was introduced in 2006, involving a single-dose injection that was designed to vaccinate older adults against the development of shingles. However, the live virus vaccine has been linked to a large number of reports involving severe complications, where individuals experienced more persistent shingles outbreaks, as well as other infections and auto-immune disorders, shortly after exposure to the vaccine.
The complaint joins hundreds of other Zostavax vaccine lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the U.S. Court System, each raising similar allegations that Merck sold an under-attenuated vaccine, which was unreasonably dangerous and defective, since the live-virus was not sufficiently weakened.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits over Zostavax, the federal litigation is centralized before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of a federal MDL, or multi-district litigation.
As lawyers continue to investigate and file additional claims on behalf of people who have experienced problems from Zostavax, the size of the litigation is expected to continue to grow over the coming months and years.
If Merck fails to reach Zostavax settlements or another resolution for the claims following bellwether trials, each individual lawsuit may eventually be remanded back to different U.S. District courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future.