Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, etc. are broad-spectrum antibiotics used to treat a variety of infections, from urinary tract infections to anthrax and everything in between. The first quinolone created was Nalidixic Acid which was discovered by George Lesher in 1962. (Nalidixic Acid was added to the OEHHA prop 65 list of carcinogens in 1998.) Cipro(ciprofloxacin) is a second generation fluoroquinolone patented in 1983 by Bayer, Levaquin (levofloxacin) is a third generation fluroquinolone patented in 1987 by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen (a division of Johnson & Johnson), and Avelox (moxifloxacin) is a fourth generation fluoroquinolone patented in 1991 by Bayer.
Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics – Still on the Market
Of the 30 quinolones that have made it to market since the 1980s, all but 6 have either been removed from the US market or have severely restricted use.
The fluoroquinolone antibiotics that are still on the market are some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. Per the FDA, “Approximately 23.1 million unique patients received a dispensed prescription for an oral fluoroquinolone product from outpatient retail pharmacies during 2011,” and “Within the hospital setting, there were approximately 3.8 million unique patients billed for an injectable fluoroquinolone product during 2011.”
When used properly, such as in cases of life-threatening hospital acquired pneumonia, fluroquinolone antibiotics can save lives.
Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic Side-Effects and Adverse Reactions
When used improperly, fluoroquinolone antibiotics can needlessly cause devastating side-effects. Devastating side-effects can also occur when fluoroquinolone antibiotics are used properly, but the devastation can be justified by weighing it against the alternative – death. In 2001, Dr. Jay S. Cohen published an article on the severe and often disabling reactions some people sustained as a result of taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Dr. Cohen says,
“It is difficult to describe the severity of these reactions. They are devastating. Many of the people in my study were healthy before their reactions. Some were high intensity athletes. Suddenly they were disabled, in terrible pain, unable to work, walk, or sleep.”
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