Citing cell damage and peripheral neuropathy link, group calls for stronger FDA warning for FQ antibiotics

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by Jim Orr

Levaquin and other commonly prescribed antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones can cause damage to the body’s cells that could lead to peripheral neuropathy and other conditions according to a petition filed recently with the Food and Drug Administration. The petition—sent to the FDA by the Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) at the University of South Carolina—said that the agency should issue a black box warning for fluoroquinolone antibiotics because they may lead to mitochondrial toxicity, a condition which the group says could cause a host of related conditions.

Fluoroquinolones—or FQ antibiotics—are a widely prescribed class of antibiotics designed to treat serious infections such as sepsis, blood infections, drug-resistant infections, or hospital-acquired pneumonia. The FDA has approved six FQ antibiotic drugs, including Levaquin, Cipro, Noroxin, Avelox, Factive, and the generic ofloxacin. Although FQ antibiotics were originally intended to treat serious infections, over recent years, the drugs have increasingly been used to treat more common infections such as urinary tract infections, E. coli, salmonella, staph infections and chlamydia.

In the Fall of 2014, the FDA ordered the manufacturers of FQ antibiotics to add a black box warning about the link between these medications and peripheral neuropathy, a type of permanent nerve damage affecting the arms or legs. The FDA warning about FQ antibiotics was issued following the publication of a study by the American Academy of Neurology, which found that new users of Ciprio, Avelox, Levaquin, and other FQ antibiotics were twice as likely to develop peripheral neuropathy.

Research by SONAR suggests that peripheral neuropathy symptoms and other side effects linked to the use of FQ antibiotics may be caused by damage to the body’s cells known as mitochondrial toxicity. This condition involves damage to mitochondria that reside inside the body’s cells, which help convert food into usable energy.

In addition to an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, the SONAR petition states that mitochondrial toxicity from the use of FQ antibiotics may also increase a patient’s risk of hepatoxicity (liver damage), glucose disturbances, phototoxicity, developmental disorders of the brain, optic neuropathy, neuropathic pain, hearing loss, muscle weakness, cardiomyopathy, lactic acidosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

According to SONAR, as many as 31% of all side effects caused by Levaquin and other FQ antibiotics may be caused by mitochondrial toxicity. Since more than 23 million patients receive prescriptions for oral FQ antibiotics each year, the number of serious complications caused by these drugs could be staggering.

Lawsuits Filed Over Peripheral Neuropathy Linked to FQ Antibiotics

The manufacturers of Avelox and Levaquin are facing lawsuits filed in California on behalf of patients who were diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy after using these FQ antibiotic drugs. Patients who have also been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy or who have developed symptoms of nerve damage after taking FQ antibiotics may also be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for their injuries and medical expenses. The first step in filing a FQ antibiotics lawsuit is to talk with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to handle pharmaceutical liability cases from start to finish.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have fought for years to ensure that drug companies who manufacture and sell defective products are held responsible for their actions. From cases involving the defective drugs such as Yaz, Actos, Avandia, Pradaxa, or the fentanyl pain patch, our law firm has made it a career priority to ensure that the makers of these dangerous products are held responsible.

Filing a successful claim against a drug company requires an experienced, educated attorney with the financial resources to take their case all the way to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. Over the last few years, we have collected more than $200 million for our clients in lawsuits relating to defective pharmaceutical products.

For more information about filing a lawsuit involving peripheral neuropathy caused by FQ antibiotics, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to receive a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your situation.