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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – When you go to the doctor you want them to give you something to make you feel better. But for some patients, the cure may be much worse than what they came in with.
The pill called Levaquin is part of a group of antibiotics known as quinolones. While these already carry a serious warning about side effects, some say they could also be responsible for deaths.
Says researcher Dr. Charles Bennett, “We’re talking about going to a physicians office, having a little bit of a sniffle, coming out with an antibiotic and then shortly thereafter having these kind of problems.”
Problems like a ruptured tendon or nerve damage. Linda Landmon says it happened to her. Says Landmon, “As I was walking through my house and stuff, I was thinking, there’s something wrong. I mean my foot hurt, my ankle hurts, my shoulder started hurting.”
Landmon’s not alone. Patients in Boston, Miami and across the country have reported similar reactions. “I can’t do half of the things I used to do, says Landmon. “It’s very depressing.”
Landmon and the others received a powerful antibiotic called Levaquin. Landmon had it while in the hospital for kidney stones. She says she didn’t receive any kind of warning about potential side effects.
Levaquin does carry what’s called a black box warning. It tells patients of a specific side effect- ruptured tendons. The Food and Drug Administration says can also cause nerve damage.
But Dr. Bennett claims there could be bigger problems, “What we’re talking about is much more serious today 30,000 deaths potentially.”
Dr. Bennett is a going through adverse reaction reports for both Levaquin and another similar antibiotic called Ciprofloxacin.
The problem Bennett says is that the drugs can potentially do damage to cells and to the brain. Says Bennett, “The mitochondria is the energy of the cell you damage that and places where you need the most blood supply say like the achilles tendon or your nerves or your brain completely at risk.”
Levaquin is made by a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.
In a statement, they told CBS 11 the antibiotic “has been used for more than 20 years to treat infections, including those that might be serious or life threatening. When used according to the product labeling, Levaquin has been proven to be a safe and effective medication.”
With fewer antibiotics working, doctors are in a tough spot. Dr. Bennett just wants to make sure people with serious illnesses are the only ones who take them. That’s why he has submitted a citizens petition to ask FDA to extend the black box warning for the other potential side effects. The FDA is considering the petition but that process could take a decade.
Bennett has this advice for patients. He says when a doctor writes that prescription for Levaquin, they should make a point to ask whether they really need it.
Landmon wishes she had had that chance. “It’s like my whole body is crumbling from the inside.”
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