The FDA warns of potential side effects of Cipro, Levaquin fluoroquinolone

The US Food and Drug Administration is raising its warning about the potential side effects of a commonly prescribed potent antibiotic commonly known by the Cipro and Levaquin brands.

They are called fluoroquinolones (FQs) or quinolones for short. Tens of millions of recipes have been written to:

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Gemifloxacin (Factiva)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin)
  • Ofloxacin (Floxin)

These antibiotics have been on the market for over 30 years. Doctors and patients assumed that they were quite safe. These drugs were routinely prescribed for infections of the breasts, lungs and urinary tract infections with just a second thought. But now the FDA has issued a stern warning (May 12, 2016):

The FDA says the potential side effects of fluoroquinolone anti-bacterial drugs often outweigh its benefits when it comes to treating people with basic bronchitis or sinus or urinary tract infections. As a result, the FDA says doctors should only use this type of medication if they have no alternatives.

Possible serious and disabling drug side effects may include tendons, muscles, and joint pain; A “pins and needles” tingling sensation; Confusion and hallucinations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising that the serious side effects associated with fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs generally outweigh the benefits for patients with sinusitis, bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections who have other treatment options. For patients with these conditions, fluoroquinolone should be reserved for those who do not have alternative treatment options.

An FDA safety review has shown that fluoroquinolones when used systemically (i.e. tablets, capsules, and injectable) 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.

The FDA issued warnings about drugs in 2008 and 2013, but did not recommend doctors to restrict their use.