Fluoroquinolones are the most widely used type of antibiotic in the Unites States. What most people do not know is that these drugs are marketed as safe but can cause permanent nerve damage, leaving person disabled for the rest of their lives. The three fluoroquinolones that are used the most are Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox.
Cipro is the most widely used of all the fluoroquinolones, making up 80 percent of all prescriptions. It was approved in 1990 and is a second-generation fluoroquinilone. Doctors often prescribe it to treat mild-to-moderate respiratory and urinary tract infections, but it also treats other conditions, including: gonorrhea, infectious diarrhea and anthrax. Approximately 20 million Americans take Cipro every year.
Levaquin is the second-most popular drug in the class, with 28 percent of all prescriptions. It is a third generation fluoroquinilone originally approved in 1996. It was the best-selling antibiotic in the U.S. in 2010. Like Cipro, it treats respiratory and urinary tract infections. It also treats other conditions, including: plague, anthrax, bronchitis and pneumonia.
The third-most popular fluoroquinolone in the United States is Avelox, a fourth-generation medication that makes up about 9 percent of prescriptions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1999 to treat multi drug-resistant types of Streptococcus pneumoniae – bacteria that cause pneumonia, ear infections and meningitis, among other conditions. It also treats skin infections, cellulitis and intra-abdominal infections.
A number of medical studies and patient accounts link these wonder drugs to permanent nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. After being diagnosed with nerve damage, patients and families of patients filed lawsuits against the makers of Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox. According to evidence presented in court documents, many of these drug manufacturers knew as early as 1996 that fluoroquinolones increased the risk of irreversible peripheral neuropathy, but they concealed the risks. The manufacturers claimed the risk was rare and failed to warn patients and doctors that the nerve damage could be permanent
In August 2103, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required all makers of these medications to add additional warnings to the labels for peripheral neuropathy. According to the new warning, nerve damage can begin almost immediately after taking the drug and may be permanent. Unfortunately, this warning came too late for many patients who suffered nerve damage that will last the rest of their lives.