What are fluoroquinolone antibiotics?

by Eric Pearson

Fluoroquinolones—also known as FQ antibiotics or FQs—are a class of antibiotics drugs used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. These antibiotics are believed to work by inhibiting the DNA replication of bacterial cells that cause infection, preventing the illness from spreading.

FQ antibiotics are marketed under several brand names, including Levaquin (levofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Avelox (moxifloxacin), Noroxin (norfloxacin), Floxin (ofloxacin), and Factive (gemifloxacin). These drugs are among the most heavily prescribed medications in the U.S., with more than 23 million prescriptions issued in 2011 alone.

FQs are generally prescribed by a physician as a “first-line” antibiotic treatment. As a result, when patients become sick with an opportunistic infection, doctors must take care not to have encouraged the persistent bacteria to have developed a resistance to these medications, such as from a previous over-prescription of the drugs.

Warnings About Side Effects of FQ Antibiotics

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration and researchers outside the health agency have raised concerns about the risk of side effects from fluoroquinolone antibiotics. In addition to a risk of tendon damages associated with these drugs, FQ antibiotics have also been linked to a type of serious nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy, also known as fluoroquinolone antibiotic neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is caused by nerve damage to the arms or legs. Symptoms include pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, and changes in sensation to touch, pain, temperature, or the sense of body position.

In August 2013, the FDA issued a warning to patients about the link between fluoroquinolones and peripheral neuropathy. According to the FDA warning, patients taking FQ antibiotics may develop symptoms of peripheral neuropathy at any time during their treatment with these drugs, including immediately after beginning treatment. In some cases, patients who develop peripheral neuropathy from taking drugs such as Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, or  Floxin may be permanently afflicted with symptoms of the condition.

According to an August 2014 study published in the medical journal Neurology, patients taking FQ antibiotics face a significantly increased risk of developing peripheral neuropathy. In particular, researchers found that new, current users of FQs were twice as likely as non-users to be diagnosed with this type of nerve damage. For all patients taking these antibiotic drugs, the increased risk of peripheral neuropathy was 83%.

Lawsuits Filed by Victims of Peripheral Neuropathy

Hundreds of patients who have developed side effects from Levaquin or other FQ antibiotics have filed lawsuit against the manufacturers of these drugs. At least 3,400 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson by patients who suffered a ruptured tendon or other tendon damage after taking Levaquin. These lawsuits were consolidated in a pair of multi-district litigations (MDLs) and are currently awaiting trial.

Dozens of patients who developed peripheral neuropathy have filed lawsuit against the makers of Levaquin or other FQs. Currently, about 60 product liability lawsuits over nerve damage from FQ antibiotics have been filed against Johnson & Johnson by patients who took Levaquin or against Bayer by users of Cipro or Avelox. These lawsuits have alleged that drug manufacturers have known for years about the link between FQ antibiotics and peripheral neuropathy risks, but failed to warn doctors or patients about these dangers.

Nerve Damage from FQ Antibiotic Drugs? We Can Help.

Patients who developed nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy after taking Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, or other fluoroquinolone antibiotics may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their injuries and medical bills. The first step in filing a lawsuit is to consult with an attorney with the knowledge and experience in pharmaceutical liability litigation to help guide you through the process of filing a case.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when the actions of drug companies and medical devices manufacturers compromise the health and safety of their patients, they should be held accountable in a court of law. Far too often, the pharmaceutical industry puts its own profits ahead of the interests of patients, disregarding the safety of individuals who may use their products because of the enormous sales these drugs and medical devices may generate. Our attorneys have amassed years of trial experience on behalf of our clients, working to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve for the negligence and other wrongful actions of the pharmaceutical industry. Our attorney will work diligently to ensure that you receive the best possible representation in your case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have based their careers around the idea that the manufacturers of defective drugs and dangerous medical devices should be held responsible for their actions. Our firm has represented hundreds of individuals who have been harmed by dangerous prescription drugs, including the fentanyl pain patch, Yaz birth control, Actos, Avandia, and Accutane.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy after taking FQ antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro, or Avelox, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about your legal options. For a free legal consultation from our attorneys, please call us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your case to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.