Levaquin and Fluoroquinolones

Patients are filing lawsuits against fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox claiming they caused serious side effects including peripheral neuropathy, tendon damage, and aortic dissection/aneurysms. Levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin are antibacterial drugs used in the treatment of several microbial infections (upper respiratory, urinary tract, etc.) that is often overprescribed. Lawyers claim the manufacturer failed to adequately warn the public of the dreaded adverse reactions associated with their antibiotic.

Bellwether Trial Date: Unkown

Injury: Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage)

Cases Filled: 1,079

Settlement Amounts: $1,8 million (tendon damage, 2010)

What type of medication is Levaquin

Levaquin (levofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin) are broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs in the fluoroquinolones class. They are frequently used to treat various bacterial infections such as hospital-acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections and prostatitis. Because of the risk of widespread development of drug-resistant microbes, fluoroquinolones are not recommended as first-line agents against community-acquired infections. However, since they proved to be potent and effective drugs, these antibiotics are frequently overprescribed for a multitude of less threatening conditions even when other alternatives are present.

Levaquin and the other quinolones act by inhibiting a bacterial enzyme known as topoisomerase II, effectively preventing microbial growth. Newer generation fluoroquinolones such as levofloxacin and moxifloxacin possess an enhanced effectiveness that grants them an ever broader spectrum of action.

Why is Levaquin considered dangerous?

In a recent safety review (July 2016), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that antibiotics of the fluoroquinolones class expose patients to a serious risk of disabling side effects. These adverse reactions may occur hours to weeks after taking the medication, and include permanent damage to nerves, muscles, joints, tendons and even the central nervous system (CNS). The agency recommended against using Levaquin, Cipro, Avalox and the other quinolones in patients affected by uncomplicated urinary tract infections, sinuisitis and bronchitis since the risks vastly outweigh the benefits.

Back in 2008, 2011 and 2013, the FDA already required the manufacturers to three different black box warning on these drugs’ labels, to highlight a risk of tendon rupture, long-term neuromuscular diseases, and peripheral neuropathy. Patients who experience symptoms such as tingling, burning, pain, or numbness, should immediately warn their doctor to avoid suffering from more serious complications which may lead to life-altering permanent damage.

Researchers also suspect an association between Levaquin and a specific form of collagen damage which may lead to a life-threatening heart condition called aortic aneurysm. Because fluoroquinolones may break down collagen, a bulge may form inside the aorta, which is the larger blood vessel in the human body. If this artery tears and ruptures, the consequences can be fatal.

How to file a Levaquin Lawsuit

Several patients who took Levaquin or other quinolones for simple illnesses such as sinus or urinary tract infections, later suffered from irreversible nerve damage that significantly compromised the quality of their lives. According to their claims, however, Bayer, Merck and the other manufacturers, failed to adequately warn patients and doctors of the unreasonable risks they have been exposed to. 

Attorneys allege that the drug makers provided weak and unclear explanations about the above-described dangers inside the medications’ labels. The litigations filed in court so far also accuse the defendants of breaching their duty by marketing, promoting and distributing unsafe drugs that they did not appropriately test for safety.

The RICO litigation and the racketeering accusation

In January 2016, a group of five individuals including Terry Aston of Baltimore sued Johnson & Johnson for over $800 million in damage. During an interview with the magazine Focus, the woman explained that she suffered from permanent peripheral neuropathy after taking Levaquin to cure a minor infection. Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim the pharmaceutical company conspired with the former FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg to mislabel and misbrand the antibiotic in order to increase their profits, despite being aware of its hazardous side effects.

In the lawsuit, that falls under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act, the plaintiffs allege that the company engaged in racketeering activities and must be then prosecuted with laws normally used for organized crime.

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Fluoroquinolones Multidistrict Litigation

In August 2015, in order to speed up proceedings, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized all federal fluoroquinolone lawsuits in the MDL No. 2642. Overseen by Honourable Judge John R. Tunheim, almost 800 peripheral neuropathy cases are currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The vast majority of these cases involve Levaquin (levofloxacin). The pretrial proceedings are moving forward and at least 10 bellwether cases are being prepared for trial.

Back in 2010, J&J already faced a storm of Levaquin lawsuits filed by victims who suffered from tendon damage. The first case of the New Jersey MDL ended in favor of the plaintiff after the jury ordered the company to pay $1.8 million in damages for negligence in warning about side effects. Later, the manufacturer settled another 845 cases up until November 2012.

Several other individual cases have been filed in state courts such as Kellerman v. Bayer and Grossman v. Johnson & Johnson in California. In both instances, the complaints state that the drug was responsible for causing permanent nerve damage to the victims who were unaware of this risk. Other aortic dissection and/or aneurysm cases are being currently collected by attorneys all across the country.


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