Lake Providence couple sues Merck claiming Zostavax shingles vaccine caused injuries

By Tomas Kassahun | Sep 18, 2018

MONROE – A Lake Providence couple recently filed a lawsuit against Merck & Co. claiming the company manufactured a defective shingles vaccine that causes injuries. 

According to the lawsuit filed Sept 10 by Marian and Richard Pearson in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the Zostavax vaccine was designed, developed, marketed and sold with the intended purpose of preventing shingles.

The suit said Marian Pearson took the Zostavax vaccine on July 19, 2014, for routine health maintenance and for the prevention of shingles. She then suffered painful injuries and damages and required extensive medical care and treatment. 

“The vaccine did not prevent shingles, but rather caused plaintiff Marian Pearson to contract a persistent strain of herpes zoster,” the lawsuit stated. “Shortly after receiving defendants’ Zostavax vaccine, plaintiff Marian Pearson suffered from a severe right facial nerve axonopathy and was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy.”

A couple in Lake Providence, Louisiana, have filed a lawsuit against Merck & Co., Inc., saying the company manufactured a defective vaccine which causes injuries.

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Zostavax vaccine in 2006 to be marketed and sold in the United States by Merck. 

“Merck failed to exercise due care in the labeling of Zostavax and failed to issue to consumers and/or their health care providers adequate warnings as to the risk of serious bodily injury, including viral infection, resulting from its use,” the lawsuit stated. 

As of July 2012, the patient information sheet, label, and prescribing information distributed with the Zostavax vaccine contain no clear reference to the potential risk of viral infection, according to the suit.

The complaint adds that Merck continued to manufacture and market its product despite the knowledge, whether direct or ascertained with reasonable care, that Zostavax posed a serious risk of bodily harm to consumers. 

The patient information sheet, as well as the label and prescribing information for Zostavax, didn’t adequately, address the risk of viral infection, the lawsuit said. “All that was addressed is the concern that a rash and itching might develop at the injection site,” the plaintiffs said. “This is despite the fact that shingles was a noted occurrence during clinical trials of the vaccine.”

In addition to injuries, the plaintiffs said they have incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses and other economic harm as a direct result of use of Zostavax.

The plaintiffs said they are seeking compensatory damages for past, present, and future damages, including, but not limited to, pain and suffering for severe and permanent personal injuries, health and medical care costs, lost wages, together with interest and costs. 

“Merck failed to exercise reasonable care in the design, formulation, manufacture, sale, testing, quality assurance, quality control, labeling, marketing, promotions, and distribution of Zostavax because Merck knew, or should have known, that its product caused viral infection, and was therefore not safe for administration to consumers,” the lawsuit stated.   

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