FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class

Antibiotics, once considered benign drugs, are raising new and disturbing questions. Excessive medical and agricultural use of antibiotics is now clearly linked to antibiotic-resistant microbes or superbugs. Worse, antibiotics are now known to have negative effects on the microbiome, sometimes called the body’s second brain, contributing to obesity, diabetes and problems with mood.

One of the most problematic antibiotic classes are fluoroquinolones which have also been best sellers. Demand for Bayer’s fluoroquinolone Cipro was so strong after the 9/11 attacks when anthrax-containing letters were sent to media outlets and lawmakers, killing five and infecting 17, daily prescriptions soared to 14,000 a day. Bayer planned to open another plant.

But by 2008, Cipro and its drug class were under a cloud thanks to an FDA announcement that cautioned fluoroquinolones posed an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. The FDA warning, which told drug makers to make label changes, said the agency had conducted a new data analysis of tendinitis and tendon ruptures and identified a three times greater risk for patients using fluoroquinolones.

Patients experiencing pain, swelling, inflammation of a tendon or tendon rupture should be advised to stop taking their fluoroquinolone medication and to contact their healthcare professional promptly about changing their antimicrobial therapy,” the FDA advised. Patients should also avoid exercise and using the affected area at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation.

The watchdog group Public Citizen called for warnings about the tendinitis and tendon rupture side effects with the drug class as early as 1999 and sued the FDA in 2006 to have warnings added.  At the time, Public Citizen cited 262 cases of tendon ruptures, 258 cases of tendonitis and 274 other cases of other tendon problems. A more recent count in a medical journal revealed there have been 2,495 reports of tendon rupture linked to fluoroquinolones from their respective approvals date through 2012. There were 1,555 for Levaquin (levofloxacin), a drug that has grown in popularity and 606 for Cipro (ciprofloxacin) said the research.

Tendinitis and tendon ruptures, it turned out, were the tip of the Levaquin and fluoroquinolone iceberg. In 2013, the FDA admitted under pressure from public health officials and patients groups that the “serious side effect of peripheral neuropathy” (nerve damage) can “occur soon after these drugs are taken and may be permanent.” By then, hundreds of lawsuits had charged that warnings falsely claimed that the side effects were “rare” and that symptoms go away on discontinuation. In fact they are often permanent charge patients and patient groups who are raising awareness, coining the term “Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome.”

And there was more to the Levaquin and fluoroquinolone iceberg.  Fluoroquinolone use is a “major risk factor for development of community and hospital-acquired C. difficile infection,” reports the Duke Antimicrobial Stewardship Outreach Network (Dason), the dreaded and tenacious intestinal microbe. The drugs are also linked to mental effects like confusion and hallucinations says Dason, and a medical journal reports psychosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that of 4,384 patients diagnosed with retinal detachment, 445 (10 percent) were exposed to a fluoroquinolone in the year before diagnosis.

Other possible fluoroquinolone side effects include liver injury–which caused Trovan (trovafloxacin), a different fluoroquinolone to be withdrawn–and heart problems–which caused the fluoroquinolone Raxar (grepafloxacin) to be withdrawn after heart-related deaths. Omniflox, another fluoroquinolone, was withdrawn from the market after more than 100 patients experienced allergic events, hemolytic anemia and worse. Patients also experienced kidney dysfunction on Omniflox and half needed dialysis. Others suffered liver dysfunction.

Levaquin use reaches the highest echelons of society. Hillary Clinton was reported to be on the drug when she collapsed at a 9/11 ceremony in 2016.

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail