Shingles Drug Approved for People 50-59 Years of Age
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, March 24, the use of Zostavax, a live attenuated virus vaccine, for the prevention of shingles in people 50 to 59 years of age. Zostavax, manufactured by Merck & Co. Inc., is already approved for use in people 60 years of age and older.
Shingles affects approximately 200,000 Americans between the ages of 50 and 59 every year, more commonly in people with weakened immune systems. It is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is a virus in the herpes family and the same virus that causes chickenpox (ICD-9-CM code 053.9 Herpes zoster without mention of complication). After an attack of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves in the body, only to reappear in the form of shingles later in life.
“The likelihood of shingles increases with age. The availability of Zostavax to a younger age group provides an additional opportunity to prevent this often painful and debilitating disease” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Shingles is characterized by a rash of blisters that generally develop in a band on one side of the body. The rash can cause severe pain that may last for weeks–and some people, for months or even years after the episode.
Source: FDA news release
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