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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
To arrange a free evaluation of your case and explore your legal options, call Macaluso & Fafinski today at 718.364.4000 (in the Bronx) or 212.480.9000 (from elsewhere in New York), or simply fill out our convenient online form, and we will respond as soon as possible. The offices of Macaluso & Fafinski are conveniently located to serve the five-borough area and its residents.