Levaquin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic that causes extreme personal injuries that ruin many lives. Levaquin is a powerful drug whose intended uses are to treat moderate to severe infections of the lungs, sinuses, skin, and urinary tract.

Because of its potency, Levaquin should be a drug of last resort, but Ortho-McNeil markets it heavily, and doctors routinely prescribe it for minor infections that are more annoying than they are dangerous. Levaquin is so harmful that some people who begin a course of treatment experience such painful effects that they cannot finish their prescriptions. For others, the damaging effects can take months and even years to appear. Levaquin damages many parts of the body, and it particularly targets tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, which bears the most weight of any tendon in the body. Levaquin’s product literature acknowledges that “Ruptures of shoulder, hand, or Achilles tendons have been reported in patients receiving quinolones, including LEVAQUIN,” but few patients receive that information from their doctors or pharmacists.

Ruptures and extreme pain in the tendons have affected people of all ages. The elderly are the most susceptible and at the greatest risk, and a ruptured Achilles tendon in an older person is a serious injury leading to immobility, inactivity and additional and more serious health problems. Reports also show that Levaquin harms people of all ages, including young and healthy athletes.

Levaquin received FDA approval in 1996, and in response to the personal injuries suffered by many people who have used the drug, the FDA finally required a Black Box on the label in 2008. A Black Box is the last step that the FDA takes before issuing an outright ban, which is what the agency has done with many other dangerous fluoroquinolone drugs.

Even though the FDA had received 1044 adverse event reports linking Levaquin to tendon rupture from 1997 to 2005, the agency protected its friends in the drug business by waiting as long as it possibly could to issue the Black Box warning that doctors and the public are entitled to have. Public Citizen petitioned the FDA for a Black Box warning in 2006, but only after Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in 2008 did the FDA eventually require the Black Box warning. And even then, the agency did not do enough to inform doctors of the dangers associated with the drug.

In one sad case that might not have occurred if the FDA had required Dear Doctor letters, a physician in Atlanta became a Levaquin victim when he received a prescription for Levaquin to treat his pneumonia. As a consequence of taking the drug, his foot swelled and his Achilles tendon nearly ruptured. He had to wear a boot on his foot for months, and only after he had suffered through those problems did he realize that he didn’t know about the dangers associated with Levaquin, and neither did the doctor who had prescribed the drug for him.

In the worst possible incident involving Levaquin, Paul Levine, a musician from Colorado, found that a life destroyed by Levaquin was a fate worse than death. Mr. Levine took a single dose of the drug, and it left him in excruciating and unending pain. When his despair left him without hope, he took his own life.

A former pharmaceutical sales representative from Pennsylvania has been living on disability for more than four years as a result of Levaquin, and another quinolone victim has prepared a comprehensive report that describes the damage done by the drugs.

Because many of the symptoms of personal injury caused by Levaquin are mysterious, people and doctors may not immediately make the connection.

So, if you have taken Levaquin and you believe that it may be the cause of your symptoms, contact me to determine if legal action against Ortho-McNeil can bring you compensation you deserve for your suffering.

Move quickly. In many states the statute of limitations on these cases lasts only 2 years, which means that it will expire in July 2010, 2 years from the date when the FDA imposed the Black Box on Levaquin.

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Richard Alexander