Zostavax is an approved vaccination manufactured by Merck Co. Inc. utilized to prevent the contraction of the shingles virus, known as herpes zoster. However, the vaccine has been shown to cause possible serious side effects in those who take it, and has resulted in lawsuits and class action suits against the company for failure to warn of possible dangers associated with the vaccine. If you or a loved one has experienced harm following inoculation with the vaccine, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster, although it is not known exactly why or how the virus – which goes dormant and resides in your body after healing from chickenpox – reoccurs as shingles in people over the age of 50. Regardless, shingles causes a painful rash in those afflicted, and can reoccur numerous times in those susceptible to it.

Symptoms associated with recognized side effects caused by the Zostavax vaccination include:

  • Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising where the shot was given.
  • Headache
  • Allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
  • Contraction of chickenpox
  • Fever
  • Hives at the injection site
  • Joint pain/muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Rash on body, normally at the injection site
  • Contraction of shingles
  • Swollen glands near the injection site
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (muscle weakness, abnormal sensations, tingling in the arms, legs, and

upper body)

  • Partial facial paralysis

However, these symptoms that are recognized by Merck are not the only symptoms that have been reported by those who have taken the Zostavax vaccine. In fact, there have been much more severe side effects noted that have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prompted recent legal action against the company, including:

  • Blindness or damage to eyesight, including necrotizing retinitis
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Death – at least 36 on record
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

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Zostavax, a shingles vaccine manufactured by Merck, is the only live virus vaccine of its kind currently on the market. According to the CDC, all adults age 60 and older should receive the vaccine to reduce the risk of developing this painful disease. Unfortunately, Zostavax has recently been linked to serious medical complications, including death.

What is Shingles?

Characterized by an extremely painful skin rash, shingles usually affects only one side of a person’s body. Anyone who has had chicken pox in the past is at risk of developing shingles, but those with weakened immune systems are most susceptible. This includes people who have cancer or HIV, are under significant stress, or are 50 and older. Most people first notice a tingly, burning, or itchy feeling before the rash appears. The rash, which can hang on for 30 days or more, often blisters before disappearing. The nerve pain associated with the disease can last for months.

Shingles can cause serious damage to the nervous system and may lead to dangerous conditions such as encephalitis, meningitis, and stroke. Some people have even died after developing secondary conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome and congestive heart failure. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective drug.

What’s Wrong with the Zostavax Vaccine?

Zostavax contains a live dose of varicella zoster, the virus that is responsible for causing both chicken pox and shingles. If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in your body. If your immune system becomes compromised due to a health problem, or simply getting older, the virus may “come back to life” and cause a painful case of shingles. According to Merck, the weakened form of varicella zoster in its vaccination is intended to stimulate the immune system, thus keeping the virus in its dormant state and preventing the formation of shingles.

Unfortunately, in addition to being only about 51 percent effective at preventing shingles, the vaccine may actually cause the disease it is supposed to be preventing. Victims of Zostavax side effects and complications have filed lawsuits alleging that, among other things, the vaccination’s warnings fail to adequately warn of these risks. A MA drug injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer.

What Injuries are Linked to Zostavax?

In addition to alleging that Merck failed to warn the public of side effects linked to Zostavax, lawsuits also claim that patients treated with Zostavax suffered shingles, autoimmune diseases, blindness, hearing loss, nerve problems, spinal inflammation, and heart complications. Even more disturbing, some reports have linked Zostavax to death. Of the more than 1,100 serious adverse events reports related to the live shingles vaccine, 90 were for deaths. Continue reading

Update on Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs that decrease the production of stomach acid. They are often used to treat ailments such as acid reflux and GERD.  Some of these drugs are over the counter while others require a prescription. Commonly known names include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, among others.

Some patients have experienced heart attacks, cancer, bone fractures, and damage to their kidneys after using PPIs. Unfortunately, not all potential injuries were listed on the drugs’ labels, even though the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that pharmaceutical manufacturers list any drug’s potential side effects. Patients have sued the manufacturers for their injuries, and as a result, some have received multi-million dollar settlements.

PPI Lawsuits Related to Kidney Damage Increase

Recently, there has been an increase in lawsuits claiming that PPIs cause kidney damage and, in some cases, kidney failure. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that drug manufacturers have known about the kidney risks since at least 2004, but failed to warn patients of the risks until 2014.

A 2017 study that looked at 125,000 PPI patients over five years revealed that PPIs could lead to “silent kidney damage.” Specifically, one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly stated that “[k]idney problems can develop silently and gradually over time, eroding kidney function and leading to long-term kidney damage or even renal failure.” Certain patients developed Chronic Kidney Disease even though they never had any sign of kidney trouble before using PPIs.

Yet another study suggested that long-term PPI users were 95 percent more likely to develop kidney failure. Even so, there continues to be zero warning on PPI labels about potential kidney damage. Dr. Al-Aly recommends that patients tell their doctors if they are taking PPIs and “and only use the drugs when necessary.”

Status of PPI Kidney Lawsuits

As of today, there are nearly 5,000 PPI lawsuits pending in the Federal Court system, but so far, none of these cases have gone to trial. The vast majority are against the manufacturers of Nexium and Prilosec. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer.

In an effort to streamline the litigation, a panel of the federal judiciary recently combined PPI cases into a multi district litigation (MDL) in the Federal District Court of New Jersey.  Courts use this procedural tool to consolidate and streamline cases involving common facts and issues so that they can be resolved sooner. At the time the cases were consolidated in August, 2017, there were about 200. Now, that number has risen to almost 5,000. New cases may be added to the PPI MDL, regardless of where the patient resides.

The First Trial in the PPI Kidney Lawsuits has Been Scheduled

No PPI kidney case has yet gone to trial, but the first one is scheduled for September  21, 2020.  To date, there have been no significant settlements in any PPI-related kidney cases.  The results of the first substantial settlements will likely shape those in future cases, as both parties will get a sense of how effective their arguments are to a jury. A MA drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a drug manufacturer. Continue reading

Is Negligent Medical Device Testing to Blame for Thousands of Injuries and Deaths?

Seemingly countless injuries involving defective or dangerous medical devices have occurred in recent years, prompting the question—are medical devices being adequately tested for safety? Earlier this month, the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) held a congressional briefing “to discuss how medical device providers are regulated and how standards can be better aligned to ensure patient safety.”

The need for such a briefing may confirm what lawyers, physicians, and the general public have been saying all along—manufacturers’ desire to get medical devices to market supersedes their desire to ensure public safety through proper testing. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical device manufacturer.

Medical Device Servicing and Safety Accountability Act

The MITA has proposed new legislation that would make it a requirement for any medical device servicer to “maintain records and make reports as the FDA requires to ensure the safety and effectiveness of serviced devices.” The Medical Device Servicing and Safety Accountability Act would reduce or eliminate the risk of improper servicing and reporting. According to the MITA, “the current regulatory structure for medical device providers could lead to instances of improper servicing.” The quality of servicers varies widely, and improper handling can lead to avoidable injuries, and even death.

In addition to proper servicing, the new bill would prompt any entity performing service on a device to alert the FDA to any issues or “adverse events should they occur.” Further, most medical device servicers agree that “consistent standards for device servicing” would be of benefit to everyone involved. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical device servicer or manufacturer.

Medical Device Testing Facts

The facts below further illustrate the severity of the problem involving improper medical device testing.

  • The vast majority of medical devices receive no testing before going to market.
  • Metal hip implants, surgical mesh, and lap-bands are among the most prominent recalls of medical devices in recent years.
  • According to the Institute of Medicine, medical devices should be tested “at least as rigorously as drugs.”
  • Currently, no national registry for patient medical devices exists that would allow patients to know if they have a dangerous or defective device.
  • In 2017, Endo, a major manufacturer of transvaginal mesh agreed to pay $775 million to settle 22,000 lawsuits.
  • Earlier this year, Mary McGinnis received $68 million after she suffered severe injuries as a result of Bard’s pelvic mesh. The award consisted of $33 million in compensatory damage/$35 million in punitive damages.
  • All-metal hip implants have been involved in countless lawsuits. In 2014, Stryker settled thousands of lawsuits involving its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants for $1.43 billion.
  • Power morcellators, commonly used during hysterectomies, may spread uterine cancer cells. So far, Johnson & Johnson has settled nearly two-thirds of the morcellator lawsuits it is facing. Individual settlements ranged from $100,000 to $1 million based on various factors.

Continue reading

Pharmaceutical companies develop, test, market and sell prescription medications that are supposed to treat a litany of medical conditions, from asthma and acne to heart disease and high blood pressure. Pharmaceutical companies are phenomenal at marketing and selling their products, but what about testing? All drugs have unintended side effects, but some can be life-threatening. Without proper testing, medications often enter the market carrying excessive, and unknown (at least to the general public) risks. Below are five such prescription medications, and information about victims’ lawsuits.

Invokamet

More than 28 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. Many are suffering from risks associated with this disease, including blindness, kidney failure, and neurological damage.  A medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, Invokamet, helps these patients manage insulin levels by regulating the liver’s glucose production. Unfortunately, Invokamet is linked to multiple health issues, from bone fractures to ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by excessive amounts of acid in the blood.

Onglyza

Also for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, Onglyza has its own set of serious health risks. In fact, the FDA recently warned that Onglyza, and other drugs in this class, increase the risk of heart failure and could cause death. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by a dangerous or defective medication.

Xarelto

Marketed aggressively as a low-maintenance alternative to warfarin, the anticoagulant (blood thinner) Xarelto quickly grew in popularity when it hit the market. Although all blood thinners carry an increased risk of excessive bleeding, Xarelto’s predecessor warfarin has an antidote. To date, no antidote exists to stop excessive bleeding caused by Xarelto. As a result, thousands have been seriously injured, some fatally. Xarelto manufacturers, Janssen and Bayer, are facing mounting lawsuits from patients who claim they were never warned of these life-threatening side effects.

Zofran

Originally developed to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients, Zofran soon gained popularity with moms-to-be who were suffering from morning sickness. Unfortunately, the drug was never approved for use in pregnant women, and serious birth defects occurred as a result. Nearly 500  lawsuits are pending in federal court against Zofran’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. A MA drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective prescription drug.

Risperdal

Young men who use Risperdal to treat emotional and cognitive disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism, may develop a painful—and embarrassing—condition known as gynecomastia. In layman’s terms, this antipsychotic drug can cause breast enlargement in young men. Even though Risperdal’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, knew about this risk, it failed to warn patients. Making matters worse, the drug was never approved for adolescent use. In addition to painful procedures to remedy this condition, many young men suffer severe emotional trauma as a result of their breast development. A Philadelphia jury recently awarded $70 million to one such victim. Continue reading

Thousands of cases are pending against manufacturers of testosterone replacement therapy drugs, including GlaxoSmithKline and Auxilium. Lawsuits allege that manufacturers failed to warn the public and physicians of potentially life-threatening side effects, such as heart attacks and strokes, and that the drugs were marketed aggressively to target younger patients, for whom the drugs have little to no benefit. What are the Risks?

Dangerous side effects associated with testosterone replacement therapies, such as Androgel, Axiron, Testim, and Fortesta, include:

  • heart attack;

Late last year, Pennsylvania’s first Xarelto trial concluded with a Philadelphia jury awarding $28 million to an Indiana woman who was injured by the drug. In January of this year, however, the verdict was dismissed due to insufficient evidence in relation to the substantial award. Three other Pennsylvania plaintiffs are requesting leave to amend their complaints. As stated in their request, they wish to “reorganize the allegations and provide more details about the actions and inactions that form the bases of already-existing causes of action.”

But Xarelto manufacturers, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson aren’t thrilled about this request.

“Plaintiffs should be required to complete this bellwether stage of the litigation under their existing pleadings,” argued the companies in March. “To allow otherwise, on the very eve of trial, would inject significant prejudice into the administration of these cases.” A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by Xarelto or any other defective or dangerous drug.

The three remaining Pennsylvania plaintiffs are but a drop in the bucket of the many Xarelto victims nationwide. Currently, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are facing more than 21,000 Xarelto lawsuits, most of which are pending in multi district litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.

What’s the Problem with Xarelto?

As with all anticoagulants (blood thinners), Xarelto carries the risk of excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging, but unlike its predecessor, warfarin, there is no antidote to stop internal bleeding caused by Xarelto. In the past, when someone developed internal bleeding from warfarin, they would be administered a combination of fresh blood plasma and vitamin K and the bleeding would quickly cease. But this does not work with bleeding in Xarelto patients. As a result, many have developed serious health problems, and some have died.

The first lawsuit related to Xarelto was filed in 2014. Shortly thereafter, hundreds of patients began coming forward, claiming that the drug had caused them serious harm, including:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Epidural hematoma
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Death

Since then, the cases against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have piled high. Even so, Xarelto continues to be marketed to patients as a lower-maintenance alternative to warfarin.

Misleading Marketing

Plaintiffs in many of the Xarelto lawsuits allege that the drug’s manufacturers knew about the risks but downplayed them to deceive physicians and patients. Case in point—a 2013 marketing campaign claiming that—due to the drug’s safety—patients didn’t need to be bothered with the pesky blood monitoring required of warfarin. As a result, the drug’s popularity soared…and so did injuries. They even marketed the drug’s dosage as “one size fits all.” A MA drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by Xarelto or any other prescription medication. Continue reading

Just about every pharmaceutical has some kind of negative side effect. The general rule of thumb is; don’t use a medication unless the benefits outweigh the risks. But what if you don’t know what the risks are?

A man who claimed that the manufacturer of a testosterone replacement drug was negligent in not informing him of associated risks, recently received a jury award of more than $3 million. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Jesse Mitchell, used AndroGel for nearly five years until suffering a heart attack in 2012. Mitchell claims that the drug’s manufacturer, Abbvie, failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks linked to AndroGel. The lawsuit alleged strict liability, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligence. Although the jury did not agree with all of Mitchell’s claims, they did agree that Abbvie was negligent.

What is Strict Liability?

To win a case based on negligence, you have to be able to show that the defendant was at fault, whereas strict liability claims do not require proof of fault. Consider a dog bite, for example. In strict liability states, a dog’s owner is responsible for any injuries caused by the dog, whether or not the owner was negligent. If, for instance, the victim was bitten when he reached over a fence to pet the dog, the owner may still be liable because the dog is “unreasonably dangerous.”

Apparently, in the AndroGel case, the jury found that Abbvie acted negligently, but did not regard AndroGel as an unreasonably dangerous pharmaceutical. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective medication, dog bite, or in any type of accident.

A Second Chance

This was actually the second round of trials for Jesse Mitchell in his lawsuit against Abbvie. In the first trial, he was awarded $150 million by the jury, but the judge threw out the verdict, calling it “logically incompatible.” In this most recent trial, the jury awarded $200,000 in economic and non-economic damages and $3 million in punitive damages.

Other Harmful Drugs and Devices

It seems that every day there is another new prescription drug or medical device in the news for harming patients. Here are just a few of the dangerous drugs and devices that have made headlines in the past year:

  • Xarelto: An anticoagulant (blood thinner) linked to excessive bleeding.
  • Invokana: A medication for type 2 diabetes linked to multiple health problems, including a potentially-deadly condition called ketoacidosis.
  • All-metal hip implants: Originally touted as more durable than their all-plastic counterparts, all-metal hip implants may rub together, releasing metal debris into the body.
  • Transvaginal mesh: Intended to remedy pelvic organ prolapse or stress incontinence in women, transvaginal mesh devices have been associated with severe pain, organ perforation and other serious medical complications.

A MA drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been harmed by a defective or dangerous medication. Continue reading

In November 2014, four women were awarded $18.5 million in damages for serious complications they suffered due to dangerous transvaginal mesh devices. A jury found that Boston Scientific Corp.’s Obtryx Transobturator mesh device was defectively designed. Boston Scientific appealed the verdict, claiming that the consolidated nature of the four cases resulted in juror confusion and prejudice.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court upheld the verdict, citing Boston Scientific’s failure to provide evidence of confusion or prejudice.

“Here, there is little reason to be suspicious of the verdicts given that BSC had a chance to fully develop its defenses and that the judge properly instructed the jury throughout the trial to keep the cases separate,” wrote the Court. “What is more, the four plaintiffs did not receive identical damage awards, but instead received damages that varied by $1 million across plaintiffs. That the total damages awards were of the same order of magnitude appears to reflect the very similarities between the cases that justified consolidation in the first place.” A Boston defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed.

Sadly, Boston Scientific is far from the only company accused of manufacturing and marketing dangerous transvaginal and pelvic mesh. These devices are typically used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, two painful and embarrassing conditions that affect nearly 50 percent of post-menopausal women. But Boston Scientific is among the worst offenders, admitting that it is facing more than 48,000 liability claims due to the defective implants. In 2015, Boston Scientific agreed to settle nearly 3,000 cases to the tune of about $119 million.

Why is Transvaginal Mesh So Dangerous?

Transvaginal mesh has been linked to serious complications in tens of thousands of women. The complications range from severe pain and vaginal scarring to nerve damage and organ perforation. The most common serious complications include:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Organ perforation
  • Erosion
  • Urinary problems
  • Scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • Fistulas
  • Autoimmune problems
  • The need for revision surgery

In 2008, the FDA began investigating the growing list of adverse event reports. In 2011, the agency issued a warning that complications associated with mesh devices were not rare, as previously thought. And in 2016, transvaginal mesh devices were reclassified as Class III (high risk) by the FDA. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a transvaginal mesh device.

Hope for the Future

Scientists from the University of Sheffield have developed an alternative to the dangerous mesh products on the market today. There is mounting evidence that softer, more elastic materials are better for use in the pelvic area. Further, a device that releases estrogen can help the body to heal more effectively. As such, scientists at the university’s Material Science and Engineering department have developed a polyurethane-based device, which is more elastic than its polypropylene predecessor. Continue reading

Knee replacements are one of the most commonly-performed surgeries in the United States today. When the pain caused by arthritis, injuries, and years of wear and tear can’t be remedied by less invasive procedures, knee replacement implants are another option. The damaged knee joint is replaced with an implant made of plastic, metal, or a combination of the two.

Manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, the Attune Knee System was approved by the FDA in 2010. Marketed as having the ability to provide patients with a greater range of motion and better stability, Attune implants quickly rose in popularity. Unfortunately, the reality has been less desirable. Since its approval, multiple patients have reported complications, including the need for painful revision and reconstructive surgeries due to the loosening of tibial components within the device. A Boston defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a faulty or dangerous medical device.

But J&J and DePuy are no strangers to medical implant failures, massive recalls, or the lawsuits that inevitably follow. DePuy has fought many a legal battle over its metal-on-metal hip implants. The ASR hip implant, which was recalled in 2010, has lead to nearly 9,000 lawsuits from patients who say the failure of their implant caused serious medical complications, such as bone deterioration and blood poisoning, as well as extreme pain. DePuy also recalled its Limb Preservation System knee implant in 2013, following reports of premature failure.

The Journal of Knee Surgery published a study in 2017, in which many of the Attune Knee implants had come loose due to the cement-to-implant interface. According to researchers, the glue does not properly adhere to the smooth surface of the implant. Attune’s “roughness factor” is 60, whereas other devices may have a roughness factor of more than 200. Further, the weakness of the polyethylene plastic used in the Attune implant causes significant load-bearing stress on the other components of the device.

 

How Do I Know if My Knee Implant is Failing?

In most cases, the first sign that something is wrong will be discomfort or pain. If, however, you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Swelling, inflammation or redness around the joint
  • Infection
  • Warmth around the joint
  • Stiffness
  • Instability
  • Mobility problems
  • Clicking, popping or grinding noises when walking
  • Nerve damage

The complications above can be the result of the loosening or breaking of various device components, dislocation of the device, misalignment of the device, or damage to the surrounding bone. A MA defective medical products lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a faulty or dangerous medical device.

Successful knee replacement implants are supposed to last for up to 20 years. When premature failure occurs within the first few months or years, revision surgery may be necessary much sooner than the patient anticipated. Unfortunately, revision surgery is typically more painful than the initial surgery because it involves removing the device, which is cemented into the bone. In fact, poorly-implanted knee replacements can cause such severe damage to the bone that the knee must be rebuilt before a new replacement can be implanted. Patients undergoing painful revision surgeries also run the risk of exposure to infection and surgical complications, including deep vein thrombosis, nerve damage, and excessive bleeding. Continue reading

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