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Levaquin and the Dangers of Fluoroquinolones
More than 25 million fluoroquinolone antibiotic prescriptions are filled every year in the U.S. alone by people who are suffering common illnesses like urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and sinus infections. In fact, fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox are just a few of the most commonly prescribed medications for those types of illnesses. Though Levaquin and other medications in this class should be used a secondary treatment for infections that are particularly difficult to heal, they are instead being overprescribed as first-line treatments of simple common infections. One of the biggest concerns with the use of these drugs is the host of serious side effects that they are associated with including vision problems, tendon injuries, nerve damage, and potentially fatal internal complications. The goal of this report is to help you understand the serious side effects that have been associated with fluoroquinolones like Levaquin and explore the options that may be available to you or your loved ones who have been injured by these drugs.
Important Warning Video
First, it’s important to know that Levaquin is not the only fluoroquinolone antibiotic that carries these dangerous side effects, other drugs include –
- Proquin XR
Researchers have shown that fluoroquinolone antibiotics like these can damage collagen proteins.[i] Collagen is found in connective tissue, skin and tendons, muscles, and even bones. Unfortunately, the breakdown of collagen can cause a host of serious physical issues, including –
- Aortic Aneurysm
- Aortic Dissection
- Central nervous system issues
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Retinal detachment and blindness
- Tendinitis and tendon rupture
An aortic aneurysm is a potentially fatal condition in which a weak spot develops in the wall of the main artery of the body. The aorta runs from the heart through the abdomen and then splits into two smalle arteries run to the lower extremities. Collagen gives walls of the aorta their elastic strength. When the collagen protein breaks down, a weak area can develop in the aorta. As this weak spot fills with blood, it begins to swell and bulge, creating a balloon-like aneurysm. Aneurysms not only reduce blood supply to lower areas of the body, but they also set the stage for blood clots and stroke. An aortic aneurysm is a silent condition that may not even be noticed until it ruptures. Some people may feel constant chest or stomach pain, or pain that comes and goes as an aneurysm grows. Should the aneurysm burst, you can quickly bleed to death.
Fluoroquinolone Aortic Dissection
The aorta is comprised of three layers; an inner layer that acts as a smooth tube for blood to flow through, a middle layer of fiber and muscle, and an outer layer helps the middle layer maintain flexible support.
When collagen breaks down, the walls of the aorta become weak, and the inner layer can develop minute tears. These tears allow blood to surge in between the layers of the weakened artery which may then rupture, causing you to bleed to death quickly.
If the aorta ruptures, you may experience:
- An intense ripping pain across your chest or back
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing
- Blurry vision or loss of vision
- Weakness on one side of the body
- A pulse that is weak on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
As if aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm weren’t bad enough, both conditions can cause other health problems including organ damage from the decreased blood supply, stroke, aortic valve damage, and internal bleeding that can cause you to bleed to death quickly.
Researchers studied the risk of aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm in patients taking oral fluoroquinolone medications. They published the findings of their original investigation in JAMA Internal Medicine, after determining that these drugs were associated with an increased risk of an aortic aneurysm and dissection.
Retinal Detachment and Vision Loss
Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones have also been associated with retinal detachment and permanent vision loss. Researchers published in The Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that these antibiotics might cause vision loss and retinal detachment in about 1,440 patients each year. The study also found that the average time between starting a fluoroquinolone and suffering retinal detachment was as short as 4.8 days. Physicians recommend that you contact your eye doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of retinal detachment –
- Eye pain
- Flashes of light behind the eye
- Loss of peripheral vision
- New floaters in your vision
- Partial loss of vision
- The sensation of a curtain being pulled behind the eye
- Tunnel vision
History of Dangerous Side Effects
Since fluoroquinolones like Levaquin were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been countless reports of dangerous and debilitating adverse events associated with these drugs. The FDA has required warning label changes noting these adverse effects:
|Fluoroquinolones Adverse Effect||Details|
|Tendonitis and Tendon Rupture Boxed Warning||In 2004, the agency required the warning label of fluoroquinolones to include the increased risk of tendon damage in the elderly and patients who are being prescribed steroid medications. In 2008, the number of related adverse events prompted the FDA to require drug makers to include a Black Box warning, the strongest FDA warning, for the increased risk of tendon rupture and tendinitis in areas of the body that are prone to rupture.|
|Central Nervous System Warning||Prior to 2011, Cipro carried side effect warnings for seizure, changes in mental state, tremor, and the possibility of intracranial pressure and psychosis. In 2011, the label was changed to include the side effect of pseudotumor cerebri, a condition in which causes intracranial pressure and has symptoms of a brain tumor.|
|Peripheral Neuropathy Warning||Following years of adverse event reports, the FDA requested drug makers to include a warning of the increased risk of peripheral neuropathy with fluoroquinolones. However, in 2013, the agency issued a Safety Communication warning users of reports of permanent nerve damage and disability associated with the drugs and required a label change notifying patients and the medical community.|
|Exacerbation of Myasthenia Gravis||The number of fatalities in people who suffer the autoimmune disorder Myasthenia Gravis and used fluoroquinolones prompted the FDA to require a Black Box warning advising physicians against prescribing fluoroquinolones for any patient with this disorder.|
|Fluoroquinolone-associated disability (FQAD)||The agency revised the Boxed Warning on fluoroquinolones because of an increasing number of people who are suffering a “constellation of symptoms” that affect the cardiac, musculoskeletal, neuro-psychiatric, neurologic, and dermatologic systems.|
How We Can Help
We believe the risks of these antibiotics in many cases do not outweigh the benefits, yet they were all marketed and promoted as safe and effective for simple common infections. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients who allege the drug makers did not properly warn the medical community or their patients about the list of dangerous and debilitating side effects associated with Levaquin and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
Today, Levaquin lawsuits continue to be filed as patients who develop severe adverse reactions and even permanent disability. As long as patients continue to be harmed by drugs that are supposed to help, we will be there advocating for your rights and fighting for the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.