No matter how you look at it, shingles is an awful disease to deal with, and everyone who’s ever had chickenpox is already a host to the shingles virus. While we’re young, our body’s immune system is more than capable of keeping it quiet and tucked away, but as we age those defenses slowly start to break down to the point where the virus can rear its ugly head and develop into an active case of shingles.
Shingles causes a terribly painful, blistering skin rash to develop on the side of your body, neck, or face, and often comes along with flu-like symptoms that can last anywhere from a few weeks a few months, and even years in some cases according to medical experts. The problems don’t even stop there – Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation rheumatologist and researcher Dr. Eliza Chakravarty commented on the pain that often accompanies the virus:
“Shingles can also bring on a common complication called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN. This can cause excruciating nerve pain with a persistent stabbing, burning pain where the rash occurs. That alone sounds bad, but Advil, Tylenol and narcotic medications are ineffective in treating it.”
Possibly the worst part about the shingles virus is that it simply won’t quit – even when the symptoms fade away, they could easily reappear again and again throughout your life. The best, and currently only way to fight back against this terrible disease is to get vaccinated with the Zostavax vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine only works for barely more than half of people, and comes with its own list of dangerous side effects. As the only vaccine approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consumers don’t have much of a choice here, despite the relative ineffectiveness of the vaccine. Luckily, a British pharmaceutical company may have found a safer, more effective answer.
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), a company based out of Brentford, London, announced their publication of detailed results from their study into the effectiveness of Shingrix, their newly developed shingles vaccine on September 14. According to their results, the vaccine effectively prevented shingles from developing 97 percent of the time for patients over 50 years old, and 90 percent effective for patients over 70 years old. Even better, it effectively prevented PHN in patients over 50 years old 91 percent of the time, and 89 percent of the time in patients over 70 years old. For comparison, Zostavax effectively prevents shingles from developing for about 51 percent of people over 60 years old, and only is effective for about 38 percent effective for people over 70 years old.
GSK plans to file for approval of their vaccine with the FDA sometime this year, but these studies show potentially amazing promise for everyone at risk of developing shingles. Senior Vice President of GSK’s Vaccines Research and Development division Dr. Emmanuel Hanon said that:
“This is the first time that such high efficacy has been demonstrated in a vaccine candidate for older people and it is remarkable, as we know that these people frequently have an age-related weakening of their immune system. If approved, this candidate vaccine could be an important tool for the prevention of shingles and the pain associated with it, which would significantly impact the health and quality of life of so many people.”
Having a viable alternative to Zostavax could potentially protect hundreds, if not thousands of people going forward. According to The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), more than 1,100 people suffered from serious adverse events because of the vaccine between 1990 and September of 2015, and 90 of those events resulted in the death of the patient. If you or someone you love suffered from serious complications due to the Zostavax shingles vaccine, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit to secure compensation for any medical bills or damages incurred as a result. Contact the Houston drug injury attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC today to discuss your potential case by giving us a call at (888) 367-7160, or by filling out our online form to begin your free case evaluation.