Have You Been Prescribed a Fluoroquinolone? More Than Likely, You Have
Despite dangerous and potentially permanently disabling side effects, fluoroquinolones are the most commonly prescribed class of antibiotics in the U.S. With more than 26 million prescriptions written annually for respiratory infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, skin infections, pneumonia, joint and bone infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and typhoid fever, fluoroquinolones are also a popular choice as a first line of defense in even mild infections because they target such a broad spectrum of infection types. Those 26 million prescriptions constitute approximately 16.6% of the world market of antibiotics. All too often, doctors prescribe fluoroquinolones for situations that could be resolved using a different class of antibiotics, as opposed to reserving them as a last resort, and patients are typically not warned in advance of the risks of adverse effects.
Currently, the most commonly prescribed fluoroquinolones in the United States are:
- Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR (ciprofloxacin) is the most widely used of all antibiotics in this class. An estimated 20 million Americans take ciprofloxacin each year, often for mild-to-moderate respiratory and urinary tract infections, though doctors prescribe the medication for other conditions, as well.
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) is second in popularity to ciprofloxacin, and was the best-selling antibiotic in the U.S. in 2010. Levofloxacin is routinely prescribed for respiratory and urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
- Avelox (moxifloxacin) ranks third in the U.S. marketplace, making up approximately nine percent of prescriptions. Moxifloxacin was approved by the FDA in 1999 to treat multi drug-resistant types of bacteria that cause pneumonia, ear infections, meningitis, and other conditions including cellulitis and intra-abdominal infection.
Fluoroquinolones Generate Huge Profits for Drug Makers, Despite Risks
Cipro, Avalox, Levaquin, Floxin and other generic and name-brand fluoroquinolones are billion-dollar earners for Bayer and Johnson & Johnson despite being among the most dangerous prescription drugs on the market. And it’s estimated that by 2019, earnings for drug makers will exceed $7 billion.
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning about over-prescribing fluoroquinolones and emphasized that current warnings were insufficient. The agency stated that “the potential rapid onset and risk of permanence were not adequately described,” and that the “permanent damage among patients exposed to these medications cannot be calculated.” Dr. Mahyar Etminan, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, likened the liberal use of fluoroquinolones to “trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”
What Makes Fluoroquinolones More Dangerous Than Other Antibiotics?
While all prescription drugs carry the potential for side effects, fluoroquinolones’ side effects can be particularly damaging, with risks including aortic dissection, aortic aneurism, and severe tendon damage and rupture. The drugs carry the distinction of being the only class of antibiotics that carry such a high potential for such severe injury and possibly death. Permanent nerve damage, especially in the hands and feet, is seen in cases of fluoroquinolone use, as well as acute liver toxicity, acute kidney failure, psychiatric side effects, hearing and vision impairment, and other health issues that can leave patients permanently disabled.
Fluoroquinolones are made with fluoride, which is a neurotoxin capable of penetrating into the body’s tissues, including brain tissue. This ability to cross the blood-brain barrier is what makes the drug so dangerous. Fluoride is also known to be damaging to the immune system in that it prevents antibodies from being formed.
Todd R. Plumb, M.D., who has also been a victim of fluoroquinolone, cites these four possible mechanisms of harm by Fluoroquinolones:
- Inhibiting or disrupting the central nervous system’s GABA receptors
- Depleting magnesium and disrupting cellular enzyme function
- Disrupting mitochondrial function and energy production
- Causing oxidative injury and cellular death
According to a study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), fluoroquinolones were associated with a two-fold increase in risk of dissection and aneurysm within 60 days of using the drug. Authors said, “Clinicians should continue to be vigilant for the appearance of aortic aneurysm and dissection in high-risk patients treated with fluoroquinolones.” A British Medical Journal (BMJ) study found nearly a three-fold increase in the risk of aneurysm. “Reducing unnecessary fluoroquinolone treatments or prolonged treatment courses might have possibly prevented more than 200 aortic aneurysms in this population,” study authors said.
As the largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta carries blood from the heart to all the body’s organs except for the lungs. Damage to the aorta can cause life-threatening complications, including stroke, heart attack, organ failure, and death.
What to Do if You’ve Been Harmed by Fluoroquinolones
When patients are prescribed any drug without warning of the risks involved, and subsequent damage occurs, it’s appropriate to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to review the situation and determine if a lawsuit should be filed against the drug company, physician, pharmacy, or hospital. In the case of fluoroquinolones, patients have already filed lawsuits due to antibiotic nerve damage, and lawsuits for aortic dissection and aneurysms may soon follow, as these conditions are increasingly linked to fluoroquinolone use in the U.S.
Have You or A Loved One Suffered Damage Due to Cipro, Levaquin, or Avelox?
Bronx attorneys Macaluso & Fafinski are experienced in representing clients who have been victims of drug side effects. If you or your loved one took a fluoroquinolone and suffered serious side effects in the Bronx, and you were not warned of the risks, we will review your case at no cost to determine if you or your loved one may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost income, pain, and suffering. Many who have suffered severe side effects from fluoroquinolones are coming forward for the compensation that they may be due.
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If you have any questions concerning your potential claim, you can contact our office by email, or calling (800) 762-9300. You can also simply fill out one of our case intake forms, and one of our attorneys will get right back to you.
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