By August 5, 2016 3 Comments Read More →

Are You Taking This Dangerous Antibiotic?

antibioticsMartha Rosenberg, Alternet
Waking Times

“I was given the antibiotic Levaquin. After 5 pills my body was burning and my right arm and legs were weak,” a reader posted after an article about underreported prescription drug dangers. “I discontinued the drug and was told I would be fine. 1 month later my feet started hurting, my knees developed chronic pain and I had stabbing pain in my quads. 13 months later, I have floaters in my vision, tinnitus, flat and deformed feet, rotator cuff damage, knee grinding, hip snapping, tendonitis and I can only walk for a few minutes.”

After taking Levaquin, another patient had “multiple areas of tendinitis in triceps, biceps, rotator cuff, hip flexor, feet and lower back,” he wrote on the web site askapatient.com. “I had joint swelling and severe pain in my wrists and fingers, generalized fluid retention and edema, joint popping with any movement in feet, ankles, knees and hips.” Before taking Levaquin, “I was a sponsored athlete—happy, strong and active. Levaquin has ruined me.

The drug the patients are talking about, the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin), is part of a group of drugs called fluoroquinolones, widely used until recently for urinary tract infections, bronchitis, sinusitis and other infections. Other drugs in the class include Avelox (moxifloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Floxin (ofloxacin), Factive (gemifloxacin mesylate) and Noroxin (norfloxacin). Patients’ stories about taking Levaquin share striking similarities. Illinois resident Jerzy Tyszkowski who filed a complaint against Johnson & Johnson and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. about Levaquin in 2013, says he developed severe orthopedic, gastrointestinal, neurological, visual and renal injuries after taking the drug for only five days.

Like many prescription drugs AlterNet has told you about, the enormity of Levaquin’s risks did not emerge until it went off patent and all possible profit was netted. (Until then, the drug was making manufacturer Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion a year and was the top-selling antibiotic.) Worse, the FDA did not acknowledge that the disabling side effects from the drug class were not “rare” at all, but common and possibly permanent until patient groups, booksvideos and lawsuits like Tyszkowski’s reported them. Only in May did the FDA warn that the drug class should only be used as a last resort. In July, it provided language for new label warnings and a medication guide to be given to every patient. Better late than never.

Red Flags Ignored

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are among the biggest-selling drug classes. Demand for Bayer’s 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 was under the same cloud as other drugs in its class 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 health care professional promptly about changing their antimicrobial therapy,” the FDA advised in its statement. “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, 10 years ago, 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) 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, and have coined the term “Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome.”

And there was more. 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 reportspsychosis. 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.

Was Former FDA Commissioner Hamburg Culpable?

This spring, a federal lawsuit was filed against former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, her husband, Peter Brown and Johnson & Johnson. It charges the parties sought to inflate Johnson & Johnson stock price by hiding risks linked to its drug, Levaquin. Brown is an executive in the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies which held hundreds of millions of dollars of Johnson & Johnson stock according to news reports.

“While Defendant Hamburg was FDA Commissioner, her husband, Defendant Brown’s annual income, not coincidentally, increased from a reported $10 million in 2008 to an estimated $125 million in 2011 and an estimated $90 million in 2012, due in whole or in part to Defendants’ racketeering conspiracy to withhold information about the devastating, life threatening, and deadly effects of Levaquin,” says the suit.

Hamburg left the FDA in 2015 but not before naming Robert Califf FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco. Califf went on to become the new FDA commissioner despite 23 financial links to pharmaceutical companies including board appointments, a conflict-ridden choice which AlterNet told you about earlier this year.

Fluoroquinolones Use in Livestock

As AlterNet has reported, U.S. factory farmers turn nasty when the government tries to take away their antibiotics. Without antibiotics, animals would require more food and more room to move around, eating into profits. In 2008, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries stormed Capitol Hill over the FDA’s attempt to prohibit the use of antibiotics called cephalosporins and they won. Instead, the government backpedaled into its current livestock antibiotic regulatory system which many consider toothless, full of loopholes and an honor system. The use of antibiotics on the farm has actually increased.

After a decade-long battle with Bayer whose fluoroquinolone Baytril (enrofloxacin) was routinely used in poultry, the government managed to ban the antibiotic’s use in poultry water. As with all antibiotics used in livestock, the FDA worried about the development of fluoroquinolone-resistant bacteria sometimes called “superbugs” and the ability to treat human infections.

But fluoroquinolones are still clearly in use on U.S. farms. The USDA’s National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products which tests for six fluoroquinolones found enrofloxacin (Baytril) and ciprofloxacin (Cipro) residues in meat in 20142013 and 2012—the most recent reports available—and danofloxacin residues in meat in two of the three years. Yes, drugs not even recommended for people are found as residues in U.S. meat.

About the Author

Martha Rosenberg is a freelance journalist covering the pharmaceutical industry. 

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This article (Are You Taking This Dangerous Antibiotic?) was originally created and published by Alternet and is re-posted here with permission.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of WakingTimes or its staff.

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  • Debs

    Worldwide, we countless numbers who have been poisoned by the fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics’ are existing in excruciating pain, pain that is SO severe, that it actually has NO word in ANY language which is strong enough to describe it, OR do it justice , These so called ‘ antibiotics are extremely dangerous drugs , in fact they come straight from HELL! .

    Unfortunately, they can all too often drag you straight back down there with them, & then leave you there … often for many years , and this can ALSO be permanently.

    They are actually failed chemo drugs MASQUERADING as antibiotics, they are in fact Topoisomerase inhibitors.

    If you look this up, you will find that every other drug described as such IS chemotherapy, unfortunately they cannot tell the difference between bacterial DNA & our own DNA, & as such do systemic indiscriminate damage to ALL body systems.

    These symptoms are not actually ‘ SIDE effects ‘ in the usual sense as is usually understood, ( the phrase ’side effects ‘ being just a Big Pharma attempt to try to mask the damage their drugs cause, ie ‘ nothing to see here ‘ , as trivial of no consequence, drugs have EFFECTS not ‘ side effects ‘ ), HOWEVER with the FQs, the damage caused by them is a completely different animal, it is instead DIRECT DAMAGE to the body & brain, at a DNA mitochondrial level. This damage is cumulative, & is being done from the very first dose … invisibly, unnoticed at first ‘ under the radar ‘ , it will ONLY show noticeably / visibly when enough damage has occurred, & that tipping point into hell, this is different for everyone .. whether that be just one dose … or many many courses .

    Stopping the FQ when you develop symptoms, as is stated in the literature, this unfortunately makes absolutely NO difference whatsoever, as once you experience noticeable / visible symptoms, it’s much too late, the damage is unfortunately done, & right now, there is NO reversing this damage, & NO cure available.

    These so called ‘ antibiotics ‘ are now classed by the FDA as dangerous drugs , yet this important information is still NOT getting out to Drs in the USA due to the FDA deciding to NOT send out any other formal information, i.e. a ‘Dear Dr ‘ letter to them, & elsewhere in the World our Drs are still clueless, so as a result of this even though these warnings are now updated, they are STILL worldwide being prescribed in completely the wrong circumstances, even for suspected infections, uncultured infections prophylactically etc, to date .

    This prescribing for a non existent infection happened to me, not just once, but twice. I was prescribed them for a suspected uncultured infection I actually did not even have. & in fact I was prescribed them MANY times before i finally joined the dots, EVERY time with NO INFORMED CONSENT whatsoever ! , as a result of this, unfortunately I am now permanently, irreversibly damaged.

    Serious Iatrogenic Injury caused by the FQs is actually NOT rare at all, instead we who are FQ poisoned are just the invisible ones. We walk around day after day, COUNTLESS numbers of us, ( that’s if we still can ) MISdiagnosed instead, with labels such as Fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, with a label of ‘ allinyourheaditis ‘ or labelled with various autoimmune conditions, some of us are labelled with ‘ severe mental illnesses ‘ , those less affected ( as yet ) are often just told it is ageing process … & the list of misdiagnoses, it goes on & on …. ad infinitum.

    Any medical professional who thinks that these so called ‘ antibiotics’ are ‘ safe & effective ‘ is actually NOT seeing what is literally in front of their eyes, their fluoroquinolone damaged patients, misinformed for almost 30 years by Big Pharma, about the true toxic profile , the true dangers of the fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ they are living on a different planet, in a different reality system. As mentioned above FQs are Topoisomerase inhibitors, failed chemo drugs, & actually SO VERY dangerous, that they should only EVER be prescribed for the reason they were developed, which is as a LAST RESORT drug, when ALL other antibiotic options available for the bacterial strain concerned have been tried , ALL have failed, & the patients imminent death is the ONLY alternative to them.

    Anyone willing to keep on taking these so called fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ , because they have taken them before / several times , & they have noticed no symptoms, they were fine , & nothing has happened them ( yet ), Please note as above, the damage is being done ‘ under the radar ‘ at a DNA cellular level. To continue to take Take fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ this is literally playing Russian roulette with your life, there is always on bullet in that gun, & speaking as someone who has been existing in this particular horror story for almost as long as the FQs have, believe me , it DOES have your name on it.

    Please research fluoroquinolone toxicity or ( FQAD ) fluoroquinolone associated disability, look up Topoisomerase inhibitors, you might just then reconsider as to whether you really want to continue to risk pulling that particular trigger ….. as it just might next time you take them, completely devastate as you know it , your one & only precious life .

  • Debs

    Worldwide, we countless numbers who have been poisoned by the fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics’ are existing in excruciating pain, pain that is SO severe, that it actually has NO word in ANY language which is strong enough to describe it, OR do it justice , These so called ‘ antibiotics are extremely dangerous drugs , in fact they come straight from HELL! .

    Unfortunately, they can all too often drag you straight back down there with them, & then leave you there … and this can be permanently.

    They are actually failed chemo drugs which MASQUERADE as antibiotics, they are in fact Topoisomerase inhibitors.
    If you look this up, you will find that every other drug described as such IS chemotherapy, unfortunately they cannot tell the difference between bacterial DNA & our own DNA, & as such do systemic indiscriminate damage to ALL body systems.

    These symptoms are not actually ‘ SIDE effects ‘ in the usual sense as is usually understood by patients ( the phrase ’side effects ‘ being just a Big Pharma attempt to try to mask the damage their allopathic drugs cause, ie ‘ nothing to see here ‘ , as trivial of no consequence, drugs have EFFECTS not ‘ side effects ‘ ), HOWEVER with the FQs, the damage caused by them, this is a completely different animal, it is instead DIRECT DAMAGE to the body & brain, at a DNA mitochondrial level, this damage is cumulative, & is being done from the very first dose … invisibly, unnoticed at first ‘ under the radar ‘ , it will ONLY show noticeably / visibly when enough damage has occurred, & that tipping point into hell, this is different for everyone .. whether that be just one dose … or many many courses .

    Stopping the FQ when you develop symptoms, as stated in the literature, this unfortunately makes absolutely NO difference whatsoever, as once you experience noticeable / visible symptoms, it’s much too late, the damage is unfortunately done, & right now there is NO reversing this damage, & NO cure.

    These so called ‘ antibiotics ‘ are worldwide being given out in the wrong circumstances, for suspected infections, uncultured infections prophylactically etc . This happened to me not just once, but twice. I was prescribed them in fact MANY times before i finally joined the dots , & with NO INFORMED CONSENT ! whatsoever, as a result of this unfortunately I am now permanently, irreversibly damaged.

    Serious Iatrogenic damage caused by the FQs is actually NOT rare, instead we who are FQ poisoned are just the invisible ones. We walk around,day after day, COUNTLESS numbers of us, ( that’s if we still can ) MISdiagnosed instead, with labels such as Fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, or labelled with various autoimmune conditions, those less affected ( as yet ) are often just told it is ageing process … & the list of misdiagnoses goes on …. ad infinitum.

    Any medical professional who thinks that these so called ‘ antibiotics’ are ‘ safe & effective ‘ is actually NOT seeing what is in front of their eyes, misinformed for almost 30 years by Big Pharma, about the true toxic profile , the true dangers of the fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ they are living on a different planet, in a different reality system. As mentioned above FQs are Topoisomerase inhibitors, failed chemo drugs, & actually SO dangerous, that they should only EVER be prescribed as a LAST resort drug, when ALL other antibiotic options available for the bacterial strain concerned have been tried , ALL have failed, & the patients imminent death is the ONLY alternative to them.

    Anyone willing to keep on taking these so called fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ , because they have taken them before / several times , & they have noticed no symptoms, because they are so far fine & nothing has happened them ( yet ), Please note as above, the damage is being done ‘ under the radar ‘ at a DNA cellular level. To continue to take Take fluoroquinolone ‘ antibiotics ‘ this is literally playing Russian roulette with your life, there is always on bullet in that gun, & speaking as someone who has been existing in this particular horror story for almost as long as the FQs have, believe me , it DOES have your name on it.

    Please research fluoroquinolone toxicity ( FQAD ) fluoroquinolone associated disability, look up Topoisomerase inhibitors you might just then reconsider as to whether you really want to continue to risk pulling that particular trigger ….. as it just might next time you take them, completely devastate your one & only precious life .

  • Cash Johnny

    Anyone know a good lawyer to take my case? I’ve been harmed by Leviquin, I’ve never been the same since. Is there a time limit to make such a case? It’s time for the drug companies and the FDA too, to be held accountable….to much harm is being inflicted so that others can make the big $ off of it……it must be all about $, not helping or saving someones life…..sad what America’s turned into…….no?

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