Dangerous Drug Fluoroquinolones Continue To Cause Deaths In Spite Of Black Box Warning
Drug companies' enormous wealth and power keep these drugs on the shelves in spite of thousands of deaths
I met a man, last year, in a hotel lobby in Los Angeles, California, who first told me about Cipro poisoning, how it had ravaged his body, and devoured his life.
I'd heard of Cipro, the same drug given to US soldiers to combat Anthrax exposure and had even taken it before, but was not aware of the potentially lethal side effects of this commonly prescribed medication that has been prescribed to over thirty-three million Americans.
This man, a famous Hollywood film producer, told me that he'd take the drug only a year before the FDA had instituted a "black box warning" for the fluoroquinolone family of drugs, stating that the drugs were only to be used in extreme circumstances, due to thousands of deaths, and rash of poisonings.
A black box warning is the strongest public health advisory the Food & Drug Administration can issue, for drugs that carry a "significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects."
Ciprofloxacin, first discovered and patented by Bayer, in 1983, is used to treat a myriad of illnesses; bacterial infections, respiratory infections, prostate infections, skin infections, and a number of other difficult to treat maladies and conditions.
The drug class is marketed under the names Ciloxan, Levaquin, Avelox, Cipro, Neofloxin, and Ciprofloxacin.
The first waves of controversy for the embattled drug came shortly after the Anthrax threats the occurred only weeks after 9/11 when five people were killed and seventeen others were infected after letters containing Anthrax spores were mailed to media outlets and Democratic US Senators.
Class action litigation was filed against Bayer by employees of the Washington DC Brentwood Post Office, employees at the US Capitol, and employees of American Media Inc, claiming that the pharmaceutical company had failed to warn recipients of the adverse side effects of the fluoroquinolones.
The lawsuit was later defeated by Bayer and subsequently abandoned by the plaintiffs, due to Bayer's powerful legal resources and lobbying efforts, making it virtually impossible for patients who get sick to recover damages, even patients who took the drug prior to the implementation of the black box warning.
"It's important that both healthcare providers and patients are aware of both the risks and benefits of fluoroquinolones and makes an informed decision about their use," said Dr Edward Cox, the director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products, at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told CBS News, shortly after the black box warning was issued.
Studies show that even with the FDA's harshest warning in place that patients often are not educated, by their doctors, about the potentially deadly and life-altering side effects of the fluoroquinolone class of prescription medications.
In recent years anti-Cipro activists have formed, with victims from all walks of life coming forward to tell their stories of the poisonings caused by fluoroquinolones, but the national media's lack of coverage on the subject matter has resulted in many of these citizens having their stories marginalized, leaving the subject of fluoroquinolones to become swaddled in a supposed internet conspiracy theory.
The rumors of the adverse effects of the drug became so persistent, at one point, that Snopes investigated the subject and found the claims to be "True," in a March 17th, 2017 article published on the popular myth debunking website.
All over the country, victims of fluoroquinolones are popping up. "Cipro fried my liver," said a Richmond, Virginia woman, to WOWK 13 News.
Another victim, 85-year-old Madeline Fuchs, had "drug-induced cholestatic hepatitis from Ciprofloxin," written on her death certificate, confirming the potentially deadly side effects of the drug.
Doctor Mark Ghalili told CBS-LA News, "I was on the floor, gasping for life," after he'd lost control in the muscles in his legs, shortly after beginning a regimen of Cipro, demonstrating that even doctors aren't aware of the potentially debilitating side effects.
FDA records reveal that over two-thousand people have died after being given fluoroquinolones and that there have been over 35 warning label changes, in the last decade.
The effects of the drug have become so prolific that a medical practice specializing in the treatment of fluoroquinolone toxicity has surfaced in San Diego, California.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America, The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, and The American Thoracic Society have all agreed that fluoroquinolones should only be used after all other methods of treatment have failed.
On July 10th, 2018 the FDA issued new label changes, in order to strengthen the original warning, adding risks for mental health side effects, serious blood sugar disturbances, and potential hypoglycemic coma.
Today, the man I met in Hollywood, who is currently producing films for Netflix, and other studios, still relives the nightmare he'd endured after taking fluoroquinolones, "It was awful. I thought I was going to die. Taking that drug ruined my life. It needs to be banned."
The FDA has stated that it has no plans to withdraw the drug from the market.