Antibiotics are among the most common and important drugs used in modern society. They are used to prevent and treat a very wide range of infections, many of which pose life-threatening risks. Unfortunately, like other types of medications, antibiotics also come with some risks of their own. For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified a risk of nerve damage associated with fluoroquinolones.
Understanding the Risks of Nerve Damage Associated with Fluoroquinolones
Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics used to treat certain types of bacterial infections. There are several brand name and generic fluoroquinolones on the market, including levofloxacin (Levaquin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), moxifloxacin (Avelox), and delafloxacin (Baxdela). Although these antibiotics serve important purposes, studies have shown that they also pose a high risk of nerve damage to patients.
This risk has led the FDA to require security label changes for fluoroquinolones in July 2018 and to publish a Warning about the unnecessary use of fluoroquinolones soon after. Safety label changes related to mental health side effects associated with fluoroquinolones (among others). As stated by the FDA:
“The new class-wide labeling changes will require that mental health side effects be listed separately from other central nervous system side effects and be consistent in fluoroquinolone class labeling. Secondary mental health issues to be included in the labeling of all fluoroquinolones are disturbances in attention, disorientation, agitation, nervousness, memory impairment, and delirium.
Similarly, the FDA warning that followed soon after the safety label changes focused on the effects of fluoroquinolones on the central nervous system, among other parts of the body:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that the serious side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs generally outweigh the benefits for patients with acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections who have other treatment options….
“An FDA safety review has shown that fluoroquinolones when used systemically (i.e. tablets, capsules, and injectables) are associated with serious, disabling and potentially life-threatening side effects. permanent who can. . . involve the . . . central nervous system.”
The link between fluoroquinolones and nerve damage is not new. In fact, nerve damage has been listed as a side effect of fluoroquinolones since 2004. Specifically, the risk of peripheral neuropathy for patients receiving fluoroquinolones has long been well established; and, in 2013, WebMD checked in, “reports of long-lasting nerve damage”, among patients who received these antibiotics. Lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who were diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy after receiving fluoroquinolones have alleged that pharmaceutical companies knew about the risks associated with these antibiotics as early as the early 1990s.
Peripheral neuropathy linked to Fluoroquinolones (Antibiotics)
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition characterized by damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Although peripheral neuropathy is rarely life-threatening, it can have life-changing effects, as patients often experience a wide range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. For example, patients who suffer from peripheral neuropathy after taking fluoroquinolones frequently complain of symptoms such as:
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature
Although peripheral neuropathy is treatable, there is currently no known cure. Therefore, over a patient’s lifetime, antibiotic-triggered peripheral neuropathy can become extremely costly. Fortunately, patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and other forms of nerve damage after receiving or prescribing fluoroquinolones will be able to continue hazardous drug claims in many cases.
Hazardous drug claims involving nerve damage caused by antibiotics
As mentioned above, several lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of patients diagnosed with fluoroquinolone-related peripheral neuropathy. These lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Bayer and Merck & Co., which are the companies that make Avelox, Cipro and Levaquin.
Hazardous drug claims are governed by the Strict Liability Act. Under this law, drug manufacturers can be held liable for selling dangerous drugs without proof of negligence or willful misconduct. If a manufacturer sells a drug and the drug is found to be unsafe, then the manufacturer is liable. This law, which also applies to other types of unsafe and defective product claimsaims to ensure that patients have access to the financial resources they need when their medications cause them harm.
In addition to strict liability claims, patients may also have other grounds for pursuing claims against drug manufacturers related to nerve damage caused by antibiotics. For example, in appropriate cases, patients can pursue claims alleging that:
- The drugmakers knew or should have known about the nerve damage risks associated with fluoroquinolones;
- The drugmakers have not disclosed the known risks of nerve damage associated with fluoroquinolones; and or
- Drugmakers continued to market their antibiotics as safe and effective despite knowledge of the risks of nerve damage.
But, even though patients potentially have multiple grounds for pursuing claims against companies like Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Bayer and Merck & Co. for selling dangerous antibiotics, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to file. a successful claim. Defense attorneys for these companies vigorously contest patient claims; and, therefore, patients need experienced legal representation.
What to do if you have had nerve damage caused by an antibiotic
With all of this in mind, if you have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy or another form of nerve damage after taking an antibiotic, you should seek legal representation quickly. You will want to speak to an attorney who has significant experience handling dangerous drug cases against major manufacturers. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide a full and straightforward assessment of your legal rights and can seek fair compensation on your behalf if warranted.