As concerns continue to grow over the alleged nerve damage side effects of Levaquin, Avelox and similar antibiotic medications, some health experts are suggesting that the peripheral neuropathy problems may be linked to a broader side effect known as mitochondrial toxicity. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of Levaquin or Avelox, such as nerve damage or mitochondrial toxicity, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers harmed by potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, and can help put you in touch with a knowledgeable product liability attorney who has experience handling Levaquin peripheral neuropathy claims.
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a drug safety communication announcing its decision to require all manufacturers of fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin and Avelox to update their warning labels to include the risk of permanent nerve damage. According to the agency, symptoms of long-lasting peripheral neuropathy from Levaquin or Avelox treatment may include burning, tingling, pain, weakness, numbness and sensory impairments. Although previous warnings about the risk of permanent nerve damage associated with these medications suggested that instances of peripheral neuropathy were rare and temporary, new information indicates that the nerve problems may actually last for months or years after treatment is discontinued, possibly resulting in life-long medical problems.
As more information comes to light about the potential risk for nerve damage side effects from Avelox and Levaquin, some health experts are suggesting that the entire class of fluoroquinolone antibiotics should carry a black box warning about the risk of users suffering from mitochondrial toxicity, a condition associated with long-term nerve damage, muscle weakness, Alzheimer’s disease, pancreatitis, liver damage, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Another potential complication linked to mitochondrial toxicity is lactic acidosis, which results in a build-up of lactic acid in the body that can lead to organ failure and death. Mitochondria are membranes found in the body’s cells that create the chemical energy the cells need to function properly, and mitochondrial toxicity damages or reduces the amount of mitochondria in these cells.
During the summer, the University of South Carolina’s Southern Network on Adverse Reactions (SONAR) filed a citizen’s petition with federal regulators to force the FDA to add a mitochondrial toxicity black box warning to Levaquin, Avelox and similar fluoroquinolone antibiotic drugs. According to the citizen’s petition, a growing body of research has linked all fluoroquinolone antibiotics to an increased risk of mitochondrial damage, but after examining the FDA’s adverse event database, SONAR found a significantly higher number of reports involving side effects of Levaquin than with other medications in the same class of antibiotics. In fact, the group estimates that mitochondrial toxicity could account for as many as 31% of the nearly 80,000 Levaquin adverse event reports submitted to the FDA between November 1, 1997 and February 3, 2011.