It’s Worse Than You Know
In a May, 2014 letter to the U.S. Senate, Doctor Jay S. Cohen said of fluoroquinolones, “In my 40+ years in pharmacovigilance, FQs (fluoroquinolones) surpass Vioxx and Thalidomide in the degree of permanent harm done.” Let that sink in for a bit.
Fluoroquinolones – cipro/ciprofloxacin, levaquin/levofloxacin, avelox/moxifloxacin and floxin/ofloxacin – drugs that are seen as simple antibiotics (though they do severe cellular harm and are more appropriate for use as chemotherapy drugs), that are prescribed more than 20 million times per year in the U.S. alone – are doing more harm than Vioxx – a drug that led to more than 140,000 American heart attacks, and Thalidomide – a drug that has caused birth-defects and deaths of thousands of children world-wide.
Vioxx has been removed from the market, and the use of Thalidomide is severely restricted. Fluoroquinolones, on the other hand, are prescribed with abandon, despite the fact that hundreds of studies have shown that they do severe cellular damage and thousands of patients have filed reports with the FDA noting that a variety of severe health problems have been experienced after taking a fluoroquinolone.
I have argued that fluoroquinolones have transgenerational ill effects and that children are suffering because of the epigenetic effects of fluoroquinolones (HERE and HERE). I have never hoped to be wrong about anything more than my assertions that fluoroquinolones are related to autism, but the possibility exists – because we really don’t know what the transgenerational effects of microbiome destruction and depletion of mitochondrial DNA are – and fluoroquinolones do, indeed, both obliterate the microbiome and deplete the only non-redundant form of DNA that we have – mitochondrial DNA. (1)
Direct Damage Done by Fluoroquinolones
There are certainly plenty of direct victims of fluoroquinolones, even if indirect/transgenerational effects are not considered. As Doctor Cohen noted, the degree of permanent harm done by them is horrifying. Fluoroquinolones destroy musculoskeletal tissue (tendons, cartilage, bone, muscle, etc.) throughout the body (2), damage the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic), and more. Fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome mimics autoimmune diseases (including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, etc.), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome / M.E., autonomic nervous system diseases (like POTS), leaky gut syndrome and even psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder and severe depression.
If someone with some resources would do a proper epidemiological study that takes the tolerance thresholds for fluoroquinolones (people typically don’t react to their first dose – they only react once their threshold for mitochondrial damage is crossed) and delayed reactions (the “vicious cycle” of mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress makes it so that damage is accelerated as time goes on – and thus delayed severe reactions are common) into account, perhaps the connection would be made between fluoroquinolones – drugs that not only deplete mitochondrial DNA but also destroy the microbiome and lead to adverse gene expression – and the chronic “mysterious” diseases that have been on the rise since the introduction of cipro on the market by Bayer in 1983. (Of course, fluoroquinolones are not the only cause of these diseases – fluoroquinolones are just one category of pharmaceuticals that damage mitochondria and lead to oxidative stress. Other pharmaceuticals do the same. But the harm done by fluoroquinolones specifically and pharmaceuticals generally, and the role that they play in these diseases, is horribly under-recognized.)
When the Cellular Damage Done is Realized
Once people realize that a pharmaceutical, a popular antibiotic no less, has done damage to their mitochondrial DNA, and has led to harm in them and their children, I hope that all of the top executives at Bayer (makers of cipro and avelox) and Johnson & Johnson (makers of levaquin) are put on trial. Causing people to be chronically ill is bad enough – but people seem to let pharmaceutical companies off the hook when they do it. Damaging our DNA – DNA that has been adapted and perfected over billions of years – is trial-worthy.
When the top Bayer and J&J executives and scientists are confronted about the damage that their drugs did, they will likely say that they didn’t know – they had no idea that their “antibiotics” (they’re chemo drugs) were so harmful.
This is what should be said to them in return –
“What did you think was going to happen? What did you think would happen in a person’s body when the DNA of the bacteria in their microbiome was unraveled? (3)
What did you think would happen when their mitochondrial DNA was depleted? Did it not occur to you that mitochondria are ancient bacterium and that when you interfere with the replication process for bacterial DNA, you do the same thing to mitochondrial DNA? (4)
What did you think would happen when you killed all of the good bacteria in a patient’s gut? What did you think would happen when your drugs triggered a massive amount of oxidative stress to be inflicted in your patient’s body? (7 8 9)
What did you think would happen when you depleted all of their antioxidants? (10)
What did you think would happen when your drugs caused chromosomal aberrations in immune system cells? (11)
What did you think would happen when you gave chemo drugs to your patients who have a simple infection, not cancer? (12)
Did you think that it wouldn’t damage them? Or did you know that fluoroquinolones would do severe cellular damage, but you just didn’t care? Did you mistake a tolerance threshold for mitochondrial damage (13) for safety? Or did you know that these were the perfect drugs – chemo drugs disguised as antibiotics that induce chronic, multi-symptom illness – and that with these drugs you could make customers for life?”
At best, the top executives and scientists at Bayer and Johnson & Johnson didn’t think. They didn’t consider the fact that fluoroquinolones are topoisomerase inhibitors – and that they work by dismantling and adducting to DNA – as opposed to disrupting cell walls like innocuous antibiotics such as penicillin or cephalosporins. If one is to give them far more credit than they deserve, maybe there is the possibility that they didn’t make the connections. Maybe they didn’t notice that many of the chronic diseases of modernity that fluoroquinolone toxicity mimics – fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. – have gone up along with the use of fluoroquinolones (and other mitochondria damaging drugs). Maybe they let denial of mitochondrial damage, delayed reactions and tolerance thresholds protect their precious egos and shareholders. But neither denial nor willful ignorance are legitimate excuses. They never have been, and they never will be. The top executives and scientists at Bayer and J&J, along with those at the FDA, should have known how dangerous and damaging fluoroquinolones are.
The connection is not difficult to make. Pharmaceuticals damage mitochondria (they’re vulnerable little organelles that also happen to be quite important). Damaged mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which is also known as oxidative stress. ROS / oxidative stress is associated with (by “associated with” I mean causes, but shhhh, you can’t say that while being scientific) every single chronic disease there is – including, but not limited to; Alzheimer’s (14) , Parkinson’s (15), chronic fatigue syndrome / M.E. (16), fibromyalgia (17), Gulf War Syndrome (18), autism (19), many psychiatric diseases (20), etc. Of course, the details of how pharmaceuticals damage mitochondria and how oxidative stress leads to those diseases is incredibly complicated, but the top scientists and executives at Bayer and J&J, and the “regulators” at the FDA, should be smart enough to read the source documents listed below and to know that the drugs that they produce/approve are dangerous.
After all, it was stated in 1992 that:
“the interaction (of fluoroquinolones) with DNA is still of great concern because of the possible long-term genotoxicity of quinolone compounds, which are increasingly adopted as first-choice antibiotics for the treatment of many infections, and because it addresses the real mechanism of action of this class of molecules.” (5)
Paying attention to how pharmaceuticals interact with DNA is probably a good idea.
Many pharmaceuticals damage mitochondria. Not all of them interrupt the production of enzymes that are vital for the replication and transcription of DNA though. Fluoroquiolones do. They also form poisonous metabolites (thanks carboxylic acid molecule!) (21) and leach all of the magnesium (22) and iron out of cells. It’s not exactly fun to go through. Fluoroquinolones are damaging people – on a cellular level – severely – and because of delayed reactions, tolerance thresholds and ignorance of everyone in the medical system, victims have no idea what hit them.
People are Sick – Pharma Companies Should be Held Responsible for Their Role
People are sick. They are chronically ill and are suffering. Neither doctors nor anyone in the pharmaceutical industry have any idea how to put them back together again. Doctors have no idea how to help those suffering from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome or any other chronic “mysterious” disease. They don’t even know how to administer the correct tests to give them an accurate diagnosis. So they blame the patients – for their diet or lifestyle or pain. But the patients are not to blame. The drugs are to blame.
The people who make, sell, and fail to regulate these drugs are to blame. They should be held accountable.
A Brilliant TED Talk About Willful Blindness –
- Molecular Pharmacology, “Delayed Cytotocicity and Cleavage of Mitochondrial DNA in Ciprofloxacin Treated Mammalian Cells”
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM & R) “Musculoskeletal Complications of Fluoroquinolones: Guidelines and Precautions for Usage in the Athletic Population”
- Mechanisms in Medicine, video, “Fluoroquinolones: Mechanisms of Action and Resistance”
- PNAS, “Origin of mitochondria in relation to evolutionary history of eukaryotic alanyl-tRNA synthetase”
- PNAS, Biochemistry, “Quinolone Binding to DNA Mediated by Magnesium Ions”
- Turkish Journal of Hemotology, “Ciprofloxacin: A Novel Therapeutic Agent for Iron Overload?”
- Science Translational Medicine, “Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells”
- Journal of Young Pharmacists, “Oxidative Stress Induced by Fluoroquinolones on Treatment for Complicated Urinary Tract Infections in Indian Patients”
- Chemistry and Biology, “Trovofloxacin, a Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic with Hepototoxic Potential, Causes Mitochondrial Peroxinitrate Stress in a Mouse Model of Underlying Mitochondrial Dysfunction”
- Molecular Neurobiology, “The Glutathione System: A New Drug Target in Neuroimmune Disorders.”
- Nepal Medical College Journal, “Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of antibacterial drug, ciprofloxacin, on human lymphocytes in vitro”
- Current Medicinal Chemistry, “Recent Advances in the Discovery and Development of Quinolones and Analogs as Antitumor Agents”
- Molecular Interventions, “Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria”
- Free Radical Biology and Medicine, “Oxidative Stress Hypothesis in Alzheimer’s Disease”
- Neuroscience Bulletin, “Pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease: oxidative stress, environmental impact factors and inflammatory processes”
- International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, “Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction”
- Muscle & Nerve, “Mitochondrial myopathy mimicking fibromyalgia syndrome.”
- Nature Preceedings, “Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Injury in Chronic Multisymptom Conditions: From Gulf War Illness to Autism Spectrum Disorder”
- Frontiers in Physiology, “Evidence linking oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation in the brain of individuals with autism”
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, “Lipid Peroxidation in Psychiatric Illness: Overview of Clinical Evidence”
- Expert opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, “Metabolic activation of carboxylic acids.”
- Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Magnesium deficiency induces joint cartilage lesions in juvenile rats which are identical to quinolone-induced arthropathy.”
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