June 29, 2022

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Merck wins lawsuit over marketing of shingles vaccine Zostavax



 

Merck wins lawsuit over marketing of shingles vaccine Zostavax

Last week, Merck won a lawsuit over the shingles vaccine Zostavax. Meanwhile, the company faces more than 2,000 other lawsuits.

 

In May 2006, the world’s first shingles vaccine, Zostavax, was approved for marketing in the United States, and sales of the vaccine reached $765 million in 2014. However, Merck is also embroiled in a number of lawsuits related to Zostavax.

 

Merck wins lawsuit over marketing of shingles vaccine Zostavax

 

At present, more than 2,000 lawsuits involving Merck have been divided into two groups. Group A includes more than 1,700 lawsuits alleging that Zostavax caused shingles; Group B includes about 500 lawsuits arguing that Zostavax caused diseases other than shingles.

 

A plaintiff named Gentile claims that Merck claims Zostavax is effective in long-term prevention of shingles through TV commercials, print ads, pharmacy signage, news and other information, but in fact, the vaccine is significantly less effective in older patients.

Back in 2019, Gentile filed a lawsuit alleging that Merck’s Zostavax marketing violated the Ohio Consumer Selling Practices Act (OCSPA) and the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ODTPA), alleging the company had suggested fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract.

 

In response, Merck said that the plaintiff’s OCSPA claim was untenable. First of all, vaccines are not consumer products, there is no “consumer transaction”, and the plaintiff has not claimed “actual losses”.

 

Ultimately, U.S. District Judge James Graham ruled that Zostavax had not been sold in the U.S. since November 2020, that the vaccine used by the plaintiff was not purchased directly from Merck, and therefore, under Ohio law, the plaintiff did not qualify as a consumer to file consumer claims.

 

While Merck won last week’s lawsuit and has long defended Zostavax’s aggressive marketing claims, the company remains under pressure as it competes fiercely with rival GlaxoSmithKline.

 

In 2017, Shingrix, a vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved for marketing in Canada, ending Merck’s monopoly in this field. In 2020, Shingrix’s global sales reached 1.989 billion pounds, ranking fourth in global vaccine sales and becoming the new darling of the shingles vaccine industry.

 

It is reported that Zostavax is a live attenuated vaccine and Shingrix is ​​a recombinant protein vaccine.

The protection rate of Zostavax in the elderly population aged 50-59 is only 69.8%, and the protection rate in the elderly population over 60 years old is even lower, but Shingrix can reach 97.2% .

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directly recommends Shingrix to replace Zostavax for immunization of people aged 50 and over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

Merck evades ‘aggressive marketing’ claims tied to once-dominant Zostavax shot

Merck wins lawsuit over marketing of shingles vaccine Zostavax

(source:internet, reference only)


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