Levaquin is known in medical circles as a broad spectrum antibiotic, which means that it’s used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Levaquin has also been prominently used as an introductory medication that’s given to patients until the results of specific tests are available and a more particularized prescription can be written.
Levaquin is prescribed to treat the following common bacterial infections, among others:
- Prostate infections
- Kidney infections
- Urinary tract infections (UTI’s)
- Skin infections
- Sinus infections
Levaquin works by interfering with two bacterial enzymes that allow bacteria in the body to multiply and spread. These enzymes are known as topoisomerase IV and DNA gyrase. The drug is classified as a member of the group of drugs known as fluoroquinolones, sometimes simply referred to as ‘quinolones.’
Levaquin was originally approved in its current brand name form by the FDA in 1996. In addition to obtaining approval for treatment of the bacterial infections listed above, it was also approved for treatment of bronchitis and pneumonia.
After a few years on the market, Levaquin began to be linked to reports of serious and painful side effects. Levaquin was not alone in these reports, as several other members of the quinolones class of medications also began to generate reports of the side effects that led to intense public scrutiny.
The general description of the side effects linked to Levaquin concerned the troubling tendency for tendons in the body to suffer injuries and ultimately to rupture. These injuries included:
- Thumb injuries
- Hand injuries
- Biceps injuries
- Rotator cuff injuries (shoulder joint)
- Achilles tendonitis
- Achilles tendon inflammation
- Achilles tendon rupture
Of the side effects linked to Levaquin, the rupture of the Achilles tendon was the most serious. The Achilles tendon is located in the heel, and when it ruptures it requires serious and invasive surgery to correct the issue. Subsequent to surgery, patients must endure the ordeal of months of intense physical rehabilitation in order to restore the tendon to working order. This physical rehabilitation period is often painful, stressful and expensive.
After more than 12 years on the market, Levaquin had generated a high enough number of negative incident reports that were noticed by the FDA to warrant action. In July of 2008, the FDA issued a statement that it was ordering the makers of Levaquin, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals, to place a “Black Box Warning” on all labels of Levaquin.
A Black Box Warning is one of the most restrictive and penal steps that the FDA can take against a dangerous product, and it requires a clear and distinct warning to be placed on all containers of the product at issue that provides consumers and medical professionals details of the risks involved with using the product.
Generally, Levaquin has been contraindicated with any patients who have displayed a history of hypersensitivity to levofloxacin, quinolone antimicrobial agents or other drugs that are a member of this class.
Will I feel anything before my Achilles tendon ruptures?
There is no set list of symptoms prior to the rupture of an Achilles tendon, as some patients report no pain or any other indications that there was a problem before the injury occurs. However, others have reported symptoms that include pain, swelling, stiffness and general irritation prior to the rupture of their Achilles tendon. If you have taken Levaquin and are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention to find out how you can avoid an exacerbation of the injuries.
Should I stop taking Levaquin?
In general, you should never simply stop taking a medication unless the FDA or another official entity or agency specifically tells you to do so. If you have been taking Levaquin and you’re concerned about the potential for developing side effects, you should speak to your doctor about the possibility of using another medication. If you stop fighting a bacterial infection too soon, it could lead to a worsening of the infection and thereby make it more difficult to overcome the original medical problem.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Levaquin?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Levaquin, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Levaquin lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.