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fluoroquinolone antibiotics are in the news again: this time it’s bad



“Today (5-12-16), the FDA is requiring labeling changes for antibacterial drugs called fluoroquinolones, including an updated boxed warning, stating that the serious side effects associated with fluoroquinolones generally outweigh the benefits for patients with sinusitis, bronchitis and uncomplicated urinary tract infections who have other treatment options.   An FDA safety review has shown that fluoroquinolones are associated with disabling and potentially permanent, serious side effects that can occur together.  These side effects can involve the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves and central nervous system.” Cherry picked from Thursday’s FDA warning concerning Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics (FDA Announces Safety Labeling Changes for Fluoroquinolones)

Back in November of last year, the FDA’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (ADMAC) got together with the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee (DSRMAC) to have a sit down about the dangers of FLUOROQUINOLONE ANTIBIOTICS.  Although they did not really do anything substantial (they did talk about this class of antibiotic causing NEUROPATHY, DEMENTIA, and hallucinations, as well as the fact they are associated with C. DIFF INFECTIONS), the committee members voted (nearly unanimously) that something should be done.  Because heel dragging is par-for-the-course inside the FDA, we should not be surprised that America is way behind the curve on this issue.

One of the earliest “official” warnings by the FDA that Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics can cause joint pain and TENDINOSIS / Tendon Rupture came out eight years ago.  Look at what Todd Zwillich wrote clear back in July of 2008 for that bastion of truth, WebMD (FDA Warning: Cipro May Rupture Tendons —- Agency Issues ‘Black Box’ Warning for Antibiotics Known as Fluoroquinolones).

“The new warnings apply to fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics that includes the popular drug Cipro. The FDA has told companies that the drugs must now carry “black box” warnings alerting doctors and patients that the drugs can increase risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture in some patients. Fluoroquinolones have carried similar warnings for years, but officials say they continue to receive reports of safety problems. A “black box” warning is the FDA’s sternest warning.   Most of the tendinitis and tendon ruptures affect the Achilles tendon, behind the ankle. But the agency has also received reports of tendinitis and ruptures in the shoulder and hand.  Researchers don’t know exactly what fluoroquinolones do that promotes tendon rupturing. Theories suggest the drug may impede collagen formation or interrupt blood supply in joints.  FDA officials would not confirm the number of reports of ruptures it has received, citing the ongoing litigation.”

Unfortunately for the general public, this class of antibiotic is no different than other drugs or VACCINES when it comes to “Underreporting”.   Scores of studies reveal that only 1% to 10% of drug reactions are ever reported — HERE).  Although the government tells us that Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics only affect about 1 in 25,000 people, I will assure you that this number is low — way too low.  In 25 years of busy rural practice, I have probably, give or take, seen 25,000 unique individuals.  According to the FDA, this means I should have seen one case of tendon problem caused by Flouroquinolones.   The problem is, have seen dozens of such people who have been messed up by varying degrees by these drugs (and like STATIN DRUGS or CORTICOSTEROIDS; who knows how many others who not put two and two together concerning what messed them up).  In fact, this problem is so common that there is actually a term used to describe it — being “Floxed” (the name comes from the fact that there are about a hundred different Fluoroquinolones whose names end with “floxacin”).

I see this problem as having two different layers.  Firstly, is the underreporting mentioned above.  It’s virtually impossible to argue that the vast majority of physicians have totally ignored this phenomenon.  They continue to prescribe drugs like Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) at the same rate they always have.  Secondly, what do we know about doctor’s prescription habits for ANTIBIOTICS IN GENERAL?  Only that study after study continues to say that half or more are completely unnecessary or improperly prescribed (HERE).  Cipro achieved rock star status shortly after the towers fell in 2001.  If you don’t remember, just Google “anthrax scare cipro”.  Because so many people now ask for it by name, it is frequently prescribed for things it has no business being prescribed for such as SINUS INFECTIONS and UPPER-RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS (colds and bronchitis) — almost all of which are viral.  Or THE FLU, which is always viral.

What does the federal government actually say about Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics on their website?  Glad you asked.  In light of the dozens upon dozens of citizen websites and message boards warning of the dangers of this particular class of antibiotic, we shouldn’t surprised that the FDA has chimed in as well (other than the brand new warning at the top of this post).

“CIPRO belongs to a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. CIPRO can cause side effects that may be serious or even cause death. If you get any of the following serious side effects, get medical help right away.  Tendon rupture or swelling of the tendon (tendinitis). Pain, swelling, tears and inflammation of tendons including the back of the ankle (Achilles), shoulder, hand, or other tendon sites can happen in people of all ages who take fluoroquinolone antibiotics, including CIPRO…..    Sometimes infections are caused by viruses rather than by bacteria. Examples include viral infections in the sinuses and lungs, such as the common cold or flu. Antibiotics, including CIPRO, do not kill viruses.”

In that November meeting from last year, it was reported that since 2010, approximately 23 million Americans are taking these drugs — each and every year.  No matter how you slice it folks, that’s a lot of people.  Furthermore, the largest group taking this class of drug are those with UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections).  Although this problem can affect folks (usually women) of any age, it’s typically found in the elderly —- those who are already at greater risk for tendon rupture. 

If you are finding yourself struggling with chronic health issues of any sort, there’s almost always a natural solution.  But it depends on whether or not you are willing to study, learn, and make some changes in the way you live your life.  To see what I’m talking about, take a quick peek at THIS POST.


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