Zostavax (shingles vaccine)
[NVIC june 2006] Shingles
Vaccine Targets Baby Boomers
In a vaccine approval frenzy putting big smiles on the faces of drug company execs, the FDA approved Zostavax, a shingles vaccine made by Merck..... the FDA approved a shingles vaccine that works half the time in people over 60. Merck really wants to market the vaccine to people 50 and older but the FDA temporarily said "No" to that idea because studies hadn't been done. Zostavax is actually a booster dose of Merck's varicella zoster (chicken pox) vaccine. It is the equivalent of 14 doses of Merck's pediatric chicken pox vaccine. The safety of injecting a "souped up" version of the pediatric chicken pox vaccine into the often immune compromised elderly is yet another national experiment on one of the two most vulnerable segments of our society: the frail elderly. The elderly, along with children, often bear the brunt of medical science's obsession with eradicating microrganisms and the exploitation by drug companies in search of profits. Mass use of chicken pox vaccine in American children since 1995 has caused a shingles epidemic in older Americans. Before mass chicken pox vaccine use, Americans who had recovered from chicken pox as children would have their immunity "boosted" naturally and asymptomatically by coming into contact with young children infected with chicken pox. Now, with no chicken pox around to do the boosting for older Americans, they get shingles instead. Chicken pox rarely causes severe complications or death in healthy children with 50 chickenpox related deaths in children occurring annually before mass use of chicken pox vaccine..
Some researchers (Goldman, G., International Journal of Toxicology, 2005) estimate it will take more than 50 years of mass use of chicken pox vaccine before the shingles epidemic will begin to subside and will affect 14.6 million Americans at a cost of $4.1 billion or about $80 million in annual health care costs. Shingles cases result in 3 times as many deaths and 5 times as many hospitalizations in adults as chicken pox cases do in children.
Bottom line: Drug companies double their profit potential when they create vaccines and drugs which create diseases and disorders that require creation and purchase of new vaccines and drugs. It gives special meaning to the phrase "a vicious circle."