The Newer, Better Shingles Vaccine

The April Pharmacists Letter came out with some talk on the new Shingrix, shingles vaccine, which is said to be preferred by the CDC over Zostavax.

There’s another reason, besides markedly superior efficacy, to like the new vaccine offered by Glaxo SmithKline.  Merck’s Zostavax is not so highly purified, and has the liability of having been developed with that MRC-5 strain of cells obtained from the pulmonary tissue of a 14 week, electively aborted, male human fetus.

If you prefer human organ and parts donations to be voluntary, then you have a few good reasons to choose Shingrix over Zostavax for preventing shingles.   Shingrix is made using hamster ovary cells rather than a cell line from a killed human fetus.  The GSK product is highly purified, has undergone extensive clinical trials, and is showing better efficacy and longevity of protection against shingles than Zostavax.

The source of the MRC-5 cell line is no secret.  But you might want access to the drug information from Merck and Glaxo SmithKline to have certainty about how these vaccines are made.  Click them, look for the section called DESCRIPTION and compare.

Remember the folks at cogforlife.org who keep a comprehensive repository of information about vaccines and other medical products which have ethically controversial origins, as well as available alternative products which can be used in their place.

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