Who Manufacturers Zostavax?

Zostavax is manufactured by Merck & Co Inc. Pharmaceuticals (“Merck”).

Merck is an American based pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It operates in more than 140 countries worldwide and has approximately 69,000 employees throughout the globe.

The business makes a host of pharmaceutical products and vaccines to treat numerous conditions, illnesses, and viruses. A few examples of Merck products include:

The company also makes animal-health medications.

Merck & Co. was created in 1891 as the United States subsidiary of the German company Merck (which was founded in 1668). Some important moments in the company's early years include:

  • it sold the first commercially used smallpox vaccine in the U.S. in 1898,
  • in 1899, the business published a guide for physicians and pharmacists known as The Merck Manual (which is still published today)
  • following World War I, the U.S. government confiscated the business and set it up as an independent company, and
  • it was incorporated in New Jersey in 1970.

Throughout the late 1900s and into the 21st century, Merck purchased several different pharmacy and drug companies, thereby growing in size, operations, scale, and revenue. Today, Merck has more than 50 prescription products in various therapeutic areas, such as:

  • cardiovascular disease,
  • respiratory disease,
  • oncology,
  • neuroscience,
  • infectious diseases,
  • immunology, and
  • women's health.

Some of Merck's products have caused dangerous side effects and injured patients. As a result, the company has been involved in thousands of lawsuits related to its products and medications. Some of the most popular lawsuits have involved:

Our national mass tort lawsuit attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

merck logo
Zostavax is manufactured by Merck & Co Inc. Pharmaceuticals

1. What is Merck?

Merck is an American based pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company's headquarters is in Kenilworth, New Jersey. It operates in more than 140 countries worldwide and has approximately 69,000 employees throughout the globe.1

In 2017, Merck's revenues were $40.1 billion. The company's CEO is Kenneth C. Frazier.2

The business makes a host of pharmaceutical products, vaccines, and animal-health medications. Some examples of Merck products include:

  • Zostavax, to treat shingles,
  • Januvia, to treat Type 2 diabetes,
  • Singulair, to treat asthma
  • NuvaRing, for birth control
  • Emend, to treat cancer, and
  • Steglatro, to treat diabetes.3

2. What is the history of the company?

Merck & Co. was created in 1891 as the United States subsidiary of the German company Merck (which was founded in 1668). Some important moments in the company's early years include:

  • it sold the first commercially used smallpox vaccine in the U.S. in 1898,
  • in 1899, the business published a guide for physicians and pharmacists known as The Merck Manual,
  • the company established a manufacturing facility in Rahway, New Jersey in 1902,
  • the U.S. government, in 1917, after World War I, confiscated the business and set it up as an independent company (so as to keep it separate from its German parent),
  • George W. Merck purchased the stock back in 1919, and
  • Merck was incorporated in New Jersey in 1970.4

As to The Merck Manual mentioned above, the company still publishes the guide today. It is available in 17 languages and is one of the most used texts in the world.

Throughout the late 1900s and into the 21st century, Merck purchased several different pharmacy and drug companies, thereby growing in size, operations, scale, and revenue. Today, Merck has more than 50 prescription products in various therapeutic areas, such as:

  • cardiovascular disease,
  • respiratory disease,
  • oncology,
  • neuroscience,
  • infectious diseases,
  • immunology, and
  • women's health.5

3. What are some Merck prescription products?

As stated above, Merck has over 50 prescription products in several different therapeutic areas. Examples of these products include:

  • Antivenin, which is used to treat symptoms due to bites by the black widow spider,
  • Clarinex, which is used to help treat symptoms associated with allergies,
  • Dulera, which is used to relieve sudden breathing problems,
  • Maxalt, which is used to treat migraine attacks, and
  • Temodar, which is used to treat adults with certain brain cancer tumors.6

4. What are some Merck vaccines?

According to its company website, Merck and its legacy companies have been working to discover and develop vaccines for more than a century. These vaccines have helped prevent a number of diseases, including ones never thought preventable. Today, the business remains dedicated to the complex business of researching and producing vaccines.7

Examples of Merck vaccines include:

  • M-M-R II, which is meant to help prevent measles, mumps, and rubella,
  • Pneumovax 23, which protects people from infection by certain germs called pneumococcus,
  • RotaTeq, which is used to help prevent rotavirus infection in children,
  • Varivax, which is used to help prevent chickenpox, and
  • Zostavax, which is used to help prevent shingles.8

5. What are some Merck oncology products?

Merck stands committed to developing breakthrough biomedical innovations to help extend and improve the lives of people with cancer worldwide.9 Examples of some of the company's oncology products include:

  • Intron A, which is a treatment for certain types of cancers and hepatitis B virus,
  • Sylatron, which is used to prevent malignant melanoma (a kind of skin cancer), and
  • Zolinza, which is taken for a type of cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.10

6. Has the company ever been sued because of any of its products or vaccines?

Some of Merck's products have caused dangerous side effects and have injured patients. As a result, the company has been involved in several lawsuits related to its products and medications. Some of the most popular lawsuits involve:

  • Vioxx,
  • Zostavax, and
  • Januvia

6.1. Vioxx

Vioxx was a drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) in 1999 to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Merck recalled the drug in 2004.

The medication was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack and stroke.11 It was alleged to have caused nearly 3,500 deaths.12

Merck ended up paying around $7 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits – both civil and criminal in nature.13 This settlement ended personal injury lawsuits brought by 47,000 people and about 265 potential class-action cases.14

shingles on skin
Zostavax was meant to prevent shingles

6.2. Zostavax

Merck is currently on the receiving end of thousands of lawsuits related to Zostavax. These Zostavax lawsuits allege that the drug is defectively designed, and Merck failed to adequately warn about serious side effects. Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for serious Zostavax side effects and complications such as:

  • development of shingles (the virus Zostavax was meant to prevent),
  • hearing loss,
  • blindness,
  • paralysis, and
  • fatal liver failure.

The first Zostavax lawsuit was filed in 2016.15

A federal judicial panel recently consolidated many of the lawsuits in federal court and created the Zostavax lawsuit multi district litigation (“Zostavax MDL”).16 This litigation is before U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Bartle has been overseeing the very first Zostavax case filed.17

In short, the plaintiffs in the Zostavax MDL state that:

  1. Zostavax, as designed, is unreasonably dangerous,
  2. the vaccine can cause serious injuries, including death,
  3. Merck (and the company's owner) Bayer failed to warn the public of the potential negative effects of using their drug, and
  4. the defendants willfully misrepresented the safety of their vaccine.

The order creating the Zostavax MDL does not apply to lawsuits brought on behalf of 300 patients in California state court and 800 plaintiffs in New Jersey state court.18

The first Zostavax trials are expected to take place sometime between fall 2020 and summer 2021.

6.3. Januvia

The Januvia lawsuit multidistrict litigation was created in 2013. Users of the drug alleged that it led to:

  • pancreatitis,
  • pancreatic cancer,
  • severe joint pain, and
  • death.19

While a judge dismissed these lawsuits in 2015, an appeals court reinstated hundreds of them in 2018 that allege the medication caused pancreatic cancer.20

Did you experience an injury or adverse condition after taking Zostavax? Call us for help…

merck lawsuit attorneys
Call us at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has experienced an injury or adverse effect upon taking the Zostavax vaccine, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.

Legal References:

  1. Merck & Co. – Drug Company History, Products & Lawsuits,” Drugwatch.com website.

  2. See same.

  3. Merck website – products overview page.

  4. Merck & Co. – Drug Company History, Products & Lawsuits,” Drugwatch.com website.

  5. Merck website – products overview page.

  6. See same.

  7. Merck website – vaccine page.

  8. See same.

  9. Merck website – oncology page.

  10. See same.

  11. Timeline: The Rise and Fall of Vioxx,” National Public Radio website.

  12. Merck & Co. – Drug Company History, Products & Lawsuits,” Drugwatch.com website.

  13. See same.

  14. “Timeline: The Rise and Fall of Vioxx,” National Public Radio website.

  15. The Legal Intelligencer, “MDL Panel Sends Shingles Vaccine Lawsuits to Pennsylvania,” August 2, 2018.

  16. See same.

  17. See same.

  18. See same.

  19. Merck & Co. – Drug Company History, Products & Lawsuits,” Drugwatch.com website.

  20. See same.

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