A urinary tract infection or bout of bronchitis can make someone run to their doctor, seeking relief, who may prescribe an antibiotic. But is the antibiotic safe? Of course, all drugs have potential side effects. However, a certain class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones have been linked to excruciating pain and permanent nerve damage, according to AOL.
Two women recently reported horrible side effects from taking drugs from that family of drugs. However, they indicated that they were not made aware that, in the fall of 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about fluoroquinolones: they carry a risk of permanent nerve damage.
Nancy Garlow, who resides in Largo, Florida, went to her doctor last fall seeking treatment for a urinary tract infection. She never expected to become debilitated from the drug her doctor prescribed, one from the family of fluoroquinolones. Garlow stated that no one mentioned that the pills carry a black box warning -- the FDA's strongest warning -- that "serious nerve damage" and debilitating pain may result, according to ABC Channel 10 News. A link to a video of Garlow discussing how sick she became from the "cure" can be found here.
Nancy Garlow said that she could barely walk after taking the prescribed medication and that she still cannot return to work.
Dr. Susan Tannenbaum from Sarasota, Florida, indicated that her life was in shambles after taking a popular fluoroquinolone, levofloxacin, whose brand name is Levaquin. A year later, she's still putting her life back together. After taking the drug, she was bedridden, suffering in excruciating pain. She said that she was barely able to move for months.
Dr. Charles Bennett, the head of South Carolina's drug watchdog agency, is very concerned about the overwhelming evidence of horrific side effects from Levaquin and its generic levofloxacin. According to Dr. Bennett, only a miniscule one percent of adverse drug side effects are reported to the FDA. Yet, according to ABC Channel 10 News, FDA documents demonstrate that the agency has received 1,200 reported deaths related to Levaquin and its generic levofloxacin between 1997 and 2012.
But the effects may be even more dire. According to Forbes, there have been an astounding 45,000 reported cases of side effects related to fluoroquinolones. In 2011 alone, 23.1 million patients filled prescriptions for oral flouroquinolones, according to AOL. Fluoroquinolones in general have also been linked with cardiovascular, endocrine, retinal detachment, and renal symptoms, according to AVARTA Wellness.
The most popular of these drugs in the class, ciprofloxacin, mocifloxacin, and levofloxacin, are sold under the trade names Cipro, Avelox and Levaquin.
Dr. Bennett petitioned the FDA to require stronger warnings regarding Levaquin's side effects, and the FDA upgraded its nerve damage warning on all fluoroquinolones in 2013.
Was this too little too late? According to Dr. Tannenbaum, yes, as she still suffers from side effects from the prescribed drug. ABC Channel 10 News requested the FDA to respond, and the FDA released the following statement.
"The FDA takes concerns raised about safety of approved drugs very seriously and we are considering the matters raised by the petition and giving it our careful attention."
The National Institute of Health indicated that severe side effects are rare and that benefits may outweigh risks. There have been other petitions for more severe warnings for the fluoroquinolones class of drugs, including Levaquin.
Bottom line: The best we can do is conduct valid research and ask questions if there are doubts regarding a drug's potential side effects, as each individual may react differently to a drug.
On another front, a new experimental drug for high cholesterol may halve the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to an article in the Inquisitr. The drug has yet to be approved by the FDA.
[Photo Courtesy ABC Channel 10 News]