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Antibiotics to Avoid Like the Plague Due to FDA's Oversight Failure

July 18, 2009 | 158,717 views
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Excerpt from an open letter to Congressman Holt from Jay S. Cohen, M.D. about severe, disabling reactions linked to Cipro, Levaquin, and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics:

Dear Congressman Holt,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with people concerned about, or injured from, reactions associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics (e.g. Levaquin, Cipro, Floxin, Tequin). I am the author of a study about severe, long-term fluoroquinolone reactions published in the December 2001 issue of the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

These severe reactions are occurring in patients who are usually healthy, active, and young. Most often, the antibiotics are prescribed for mild infections such as sinusitis, urinary or prostate infections. Most reactions occur very quickly, sometimes with just a few doses of the fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Reactions are acute, severe, frightening, and often disabling.

Since the publication of my article with its 45 cases two and a half years ago, I have received e-mails from more than 100 people seeking help for their reactions. In most cases, their doctors have dismissed their complaints or outright denied that the reactions could occur with fluoroquinolones.

Yet extensive medical workups do not find any other cause. Worse, there are no known effective treatments. Thus, these people suffer pain and disability for weeks, months, and years.

I hope you will look seriously at this problem and respond accordingly. These people need your help. This is a largely preventable problem.

Thank you.

Jay S. Cohen, M.D.
Associate Professor

Departments of Family and Preventive Medicine and of Psychiatry


University of California, San Diego
http://www.MedicationSense.com

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The above excerpt from the letter by Dr. Jay Cohen reflects the valiant efforts of one courageous physician to expose the frightening dangers posed to you by one popular group of medications: the fluoroquinolone antibiotics, of which Cipro is one.

You might recall hearing about Cipro during the anthrax scare in the wake of 9/11 when it received extensive media coverage as the miracle cure for anthrax. The drug became an overnight household name as soon as the first cases of anthrax-tainted mail hit the news.

Governments, pharmacies, and individuals everywhere were stockpiling Cipro, which was selling for $7 per pill.

Cipro, or ciprofloxacin, has actually been around since 1983 for a variety of indications, and is the most widely used fluoroquinolone in humans and animals today. One estimate has the number of Cipro prescriptions exceeding 280 million to date.

But the fluoroquinolones have a grim enough history to warrant a skull-and-crossbones label. The primary reason for this as that they have fluoride as a central part of the drug, and fluoride is a toxin is clearly never was meant to be in humans. Fluoride antibiotics are a significant source of fluoride in humans.

The Awful Truth About Fluoride Containing or Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

Most likely a great deal of the toxicity of these drugs is that they contain the highly toxic poison, fluoride.

Drugs with an attached fluoride can penetrate into very sensitive tissues that used to be impenetrable. The fluoroquinolones have the unique ability to penetrate your central nervous system, including your brain.

According to Bob Patton, a private citizen in England fighting to get the truth out about these antibiotics, about half of the fluoroquinolone antibiotics that were once on the market have been removed from clinical practice due to their horrific side effects.

Omniflox, Raxar, Trovan, Zagam, and Tequin have all been banned.

However, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, and Floxin continue to be prescribed for a variety of infections, both major and minor. Cipro and Levaquin are by far the favorites.

Although they are admittedly powerful anti-infectives, they are too often prescribed as a first-line defense for minor problems such as sinus, bladder, and prostate infections. These super-antibiotics should be used as a last line of defense, not handed out like candy for every patient with a sore throat, which has unfortunately become the norm.

And with devastating results.

In most cases, adverse reactions occur very quickly, sometimes after just a few pills. Reactions are usually multiple and involve many body systems.

In Dr. Cohen’s 2001 study, the following reaction rates were documented:

  • Nervous system symptoms occurred in 91 percent of patients (pain, tingling and numbness, dizziness, malaise, weakness, headaches, anxiety and panic, loss of memory, psychosis)
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms in 73 percent of patients (tendon ruptures, tendonitis, weakness, joint swelling)
  • Sensory symptoms in 42 percent of patients (tinnitus, altered visual, olfactory, and auditory function)
  • Cardiovascular symptoms in 36 percent of patients (tachycardia, shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations)
  • Skin reactions in 29 percent of patients (rashes, hair loss, sweating, intolerance to heat or cold)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms in 18 percent of patients (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain)

A comprehensive list of reactions can be found at Dr. Cohen’s site Medication Sense.

Big Gun Antibiotics Cause Big Collateral Damage

It is important to realize that these adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are not rare.

When patients begin to have a serious problem, their physicians typically dismiss their complaints out of ignorance or misinformation. When caring physicians do try to find out what is causing the problem, test results are often normal (although MRI’s may be positive in people with ruptured tendons).

In most cases, the adverse reactions are not immediately traced back to the fluoroquinolone—a situation made worse when your physician tells you that what you’re experiencing is unrelated to your meds.

So you’re likely to continue the medication that is making you sick, causing worse damage, which is, unfortunately, sometimes permanent.

According to Bob Grozier, a computer programmer who has been disabled for over seven years from taking Cipro, the adverse symptoms from fluoroquinolones are latent in many cases--materializing weeks or months after the medication is stopped. These patients have great difficulty linking their health problems back to the antibiotic.

The latent reactions do not appear to resolve, becoming chronic, life-long conditions for which there is no effective treatment.

This is what has helped to conceal the high number of victims, and what makes fluoroquinolone toxicity so insidious.

These individuals suffer a living hell, as illustrated by some of Dr. Cohen’s cases:

  • A female patient, age 47, received Levaquin for sinusitis. Within 2 days, she developed joint pain (severe in her hands), insomnia, severe agitation and confusion, weakness, dizziness, severe fatigue, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Her symptoms were still severe after 7 months.
  • A male patient, age 36, in previously good health, received Cipro for possible urinary tract infection. For the five years since, he has had chronic, debilitating multi-focal neuropathy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, a heart arrhythmia requiring a pacemaker, carpal tunnel, and chronic multiple joint pains. He is completely disabled.
  • Another man, age 35, previously in good health, took Levaquin for a prostate infection. After just one dose, his symptoms began with ringing in the ears and peripheral nerve symptoms lasting two weeks. Tendonitis quickly followed in his shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and Achilles tendons. After two months, he was still unable to walk more than a short distance.

Hundreds more cases such as these are being seen by Dr. Cohen, as well as by other physicians who have opened their eyes to the facts. Estimates are now that thousands of people are severely damaged each year by this family of drugs.

Even the people who know that their health problems are a result of fluoroquinolones are usually unsuccessful in convincing their physicians of such.

Most doctors rely on information provided them by pharmaceutical companies, endorsed by the FDA, and it’s a near-impossible task to convince these physicians that they are not being told the full story.

Not-so-Silent Heroes

In today’s expansive age of online networking, there exists a large community of folks who’ve experienced fluoroquinolone injuries, calling themselves the “Floxies,” and their numbers grow as the prescriptions flow.

Quite a few of these Floxies are in the medical field themselves (or were, before they were poisoned), and are on a mission to help fellow fluoroquinolone victims.

One such crusader is Todd R. Plumb, M.D, a physician and Levaquin victim who is trying to help others in similar circumstances. He states that fluoroquinolone toxicity seems to be functional, not structural, since structural abnormalities are not usually seen on the radiological studies of patients with fluoroquinolone toxicity.

Dr. Plumb cites the following four possible mechanisms for the damage, based on the research thus far:

  1. Inhibition or disruption of the central nervous system GABA receptors
  2. Depletion of magnesium and disruption of cellular enzyme function
  3. Disruption of mitochondrial function and energy production
  4. Oxidative injury and cellular death

Dr. Plumb also states:

“The spectrum of these adverse reactions is extremely broad. Patients suffering from these reactions are often misdiagnosed, referred for a psychiatric consult or even unfairly labeled as ‘difficult patients.’”

David A. Flockhart, professor of medicine and Chief of Clinical Pharmacology at Indiana University School of Medicine, reports as many as one third of patients taking a fluoroquinolone will experience some sort of negative psychiatric effect, such as anxiety, personality changes, or confusion.

Dr. Flockhart has treated more than 100 patients with such psychiatric side effects, stating:

“The psychiatric effects of the fluoroquinolones are underappreciated by the medical profession as well as by the public.”

He also remarks,

“The bigger the gun you use, the more damage you can expect as collateral.”

And Cipro is a very big gun that should be used only in special circumstances.

Fluoride: The Silent Assassin in Many Prescription Drugs

Why are the fluoroquinolones capable of doing so much damage?

In the late 1970s, researchers attempted to make an already potent group of antibiotics, the quinolones, more potent. So, they attached a fluoride unit to the quinolone group, making it more capable of penetrating your body’s tissues.

So, the quinolones became the fluoroquinolones.

The first quinolone antibiotic did tremendous damage, even before fluoride was added. But adding a known toxin to an already dangerous medication only makes it more dangerous.

Drugs with an attached fluoride can penetrate into very sensitive tissues that used to be impenetrable. The fluoroquinolones have the unique ability to penetrate your central nervous system, including your brain.

Fluoride is a known poison to your body, more toxic than lead and nearly as toxic as arsenic. Fluoride disrupts collagen synthesis, thereby breaking down collagen in your muscles, tendons, cartilage, bone, kidneys, lungs and skin.

With this collagen damage, it’s not surprising that you are at substantial risk for tendon rupture when taking fluoroquinolone.

However, collagen effects are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Fluoride can have severe and sometimes permanent neurological effects and can damage your immune system by depleting energy reserves and inhibiting antibody formation in your blood. It can also depress your thyroid and cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems.

Add to this the dangers inherent in the quinolone molecule, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are not the only medications that are fluoridated—you might be surprised at the list, which includes Prozac (Fluoxetine), Prevacid, Baycol, and Dalmane (Flurazepam).

Fluoroquinolone Toxicity and Gulf War Syndrome

Jason Alexander Uttley’s article of November 13, 2002 takes the concern over these drugs up another notch.

Being a journalist, not a doctor, he interviewed a host of sources and noted the unsettling relationship between the rise of “mystery” illnesses (chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Gulf War Syndrome) and the medications troops were given that were supposed to protect them from bioterror agents like anthrax.

Of course, the most common preventative drug given the troops seems to be Cipro.

I don’t believe it is a coincidence that what we now call Gulf War Syndrome is so alarmingly similar to fluoroquinolone poisoning.

Joint pain, muscle stiffness and aches, tendon pain, dizziness, disorientation, burning and tingling sensations, sensory abnormalities, diarrhea, brain fog…all symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome and fluoroquinolone poisoning.

The same degree of similarity exists between fluoroquinolone toxicity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia—and all are marked with the same overall lack of radiological and laboratory evidence. All are accused of being “bizarre” illnesses lacking any identifiable etiology.

Could all of these modern “mystery ailments” be caused by the same thing—a bad fluoroquinolone trip?

Is it possible that millions of Americans have actually been misdiagnosed and are really experiencing long-term side effects from antibiotics?

Almost half of all Gulf War veterans experienced some form of Gulf War Syndrome. Years later, many of those vets have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. While it is unknown what medications they were given (even the vets themselves don’t know), we do know the military stocked up on Cipro during the time of the Gulf War. And we know they were concerned about anthrax, for which Cipro was the chief combatant.

Just connect the dots.

To prove the scientific validity of such a huge claim would be an outrageously complex undertaking. But the evidence is mounting that these antibiotics are a noxious, silent enemy--more dangerous than we could have ever imagined.

Progress is Slow, but There is Reason for Hope

Fortunately, there are brave warriors fighting the good fight with Big Pharma and the FDA to get the truth out there about fluoroquinolones. I have mentioned several of them already in this article.

Calling themselves the “Floxies,” they have banded together in search of a cure for their condition and are spreading the word about fluoroquinolones.

The adoption of a cute name does nothing to soften the impact on the lives of these victims. The damage to families that goes along with severe pain and disability is profound, from loss of livelihood to financial demise, desperation and suicide.

Thanks to the hard work of one fluoroquinolone victim in the state of Illinois, who chooses to remain anonymous, a “black box warning” for tendon rupture and tendonitis was mandated by the FDA in July of 2008 for all fluoroquinolone antibiotics. This is the strongest warning label a drug can have before it is removed from the market.

Although it’s a step in the right direction, this black box warning is far too late for tens of thousands of people who now live with devastating disabilities from these drugs.

Spontaneous tendon ruptures and crippling adverse reactions have been reported to the FDA since 1982,yet they’ve turned a blind eye for more than 25 years before issuing a black box warning—and only then, caving in under public pressure. Now, the CDC has finally changed their guidelines, placing the antibiotics doxycycline and penicillin above Cipro as the preferred treatments for anthrax exposure. (Doxycycline and penicillin have far fewer side effects.)

In addition to the links already cited, you can go to Levaquinadversesideeffect.com and Antibiotics.org for additional information. An excellent documentary about fluoroquinolones has just been released on DVD, which can be purchased at http://www.certainadverseevents.com. It can also be viewed for free in high definition on Youtube.

As I have said many times before, you place yourself at great risk every time you take a drug, even those pronounced “safe” by the FDA. Your best strategy is optimizing your immune system so that hopefully, you won’t be in a position where drugs are your only choice.

More information can be found at FQHelp.com, Favc.info, or the source links above.


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