The FDA has approved use of the varicella zoster vaccineZostavax in patients ages 50 to 59 for prevention of shingles caused by the virus Herpes Zoster, which also responsible for chickenpox. The vaccine was approved in 2006 for prevention of shingles in patients 60 and older.
Approval for the new indication was based on a 22,000-patient multicenter study in the U.S. and four other countries. Patients ages 50 to 59 were randomized equally to the vaccine or placebo and were followed for a year.
Shingles risk was 70% lower in the treatment group than in the placebo group.
Adverse events in the study included injection site redness, pain, and swelling, as well as headache.
Shingles affects some 200,000 healthy patients in the newly approved younger age group each year in the U.S., an FDA statement said.