New survey finds most Canadians underestimate the risk of getting shingles - Shingles Vaccine Now Readily Available

KIRKLAND, QC, June 19, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - According to a new survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid, 94% of Canadians think shingles is painful, but only 34% of Canadians know a vaccine exists to help prevent shingles.1 Merck is unveiling the survey results today as the company announces that the backlog on orders for ZOSTAVAX® - the only vaccine indicated for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster) in people 50 years of age and older - is now over.

Nearly 1 in 3 Canadians will develop shingles in their lifetime.2 However, the Ipsos-Reid survey conducted earlier this month found that 90% of Canadians considerably underestimate the risk of getting shingles.1

"Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. For most people, shingles pain usually lessens as the shingles rash heals. But for some people, the pain persists for months or even years and can be excruciating," said Dr. Jeffrey Ashley, a Toronto-based general practitioner who has seen many patients suffering from shingles over the years. "The only way to help prevent shingles is to get vaccinated."

"I totally underestimated the excruciating pain associated with shingles until I developed it," says Lorne Barsky who developed shingles on the left side of his face including his eye a year ago. "The rash was extremely painful and I still have difficulty wearing glasses and even focusing my eyes. Shingles is definitely the worst thing that I've ever experienced.  I wish I had accepted the vaccine, as my wife did, when it was offered to us."

Western Canadians most familiar with shingles and shingles vaccine
Western Canadians proved to be the most familiar with shingles and the most aware that a vaccine exists to help prevent shingles. Ninety per cent of people in Alberta and 80% of people in BC were very or somewhat familiar with shingles, compared to only 38% in Quebec and 69% in Ontario.1 Fifty-eight per cent of people in Alberta and 45% of people in BC know a vaccine exists to help prevent shingles, compared to only 17% in Quebec and 36% in Ontario.1

"Merck is committed to ensuring Canadians are aware of the availability of a shingles vaccine and encourages them to talk to their doctor or healthcare professionals about vaccination," said Bruce McDonald, Vice-President, Vaccines, Merck Canada. "Approximately 95% of Canadian adults have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles."

About shingles3,4
Shingles is marked by a blistering rash and is caused by the reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox. After someone has had chickenpox, the virus never leaves their body, remaining inactive in certain nerve roots for many years. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, the virus becomes active again - usually later in life - and causes shingles.

The first signs of shingles are often felt and may not be seen, and can include itching, tingling or burning. Later, a painful rash of fluid-filled blisters appears, usually on one side of the body or face. The rash can last up to 30 days, and for most people the pain lessens as the rash heals. Some people who develop shingles experience post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), long-term nerve pain that can last for months, even years.

About the survey
The results of the survey completed in June 2012, which was commissioned by Merck, are based on 1,000 online interviews conducted nationally of individuals aged 18 or over. The sample was generated by Ipsos-Reid's national online panel (Ipsos I-say Online Panel). With a sample size of 1,000, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of adults 18 and over in Canada been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well.  Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer and animal products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information about our operations in Canada, visit

Forward Looking Statement
This news release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation; the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully; disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships; Merck's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck's patents and other protections for innovative products; the risk of new and changing regulation and health policies in the United States and internationally and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck's 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (

1 Ipsos-Reid, 2012. "Shingles Omnibus Survey", Canadian Online Omni June 6 - 8, 2012
2 Brisson M et al. Epidemiology of varicella zoster virus infection in Canada and the United Kingdom. Epidemiol Infect 2011;127:305-14
3 Merck, 2012. "Efficacy and Safety Data for ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live), Merck's Shingles Vaccine, in Adults Ages 50 to 59 Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases". Online. Available at: (Accessed June 2012)
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011. "Shingles (Herpes Zoster)". Online. Available at: (Accessed June 2012) 


For further information:

The news release is available at



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