Monday, October 27, 2014

But....: Stupid Things People Say About Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

*Originally posted on QVF's Facebook page and Rachel Brummert's LinkedIn. It was also published on Clarkson Law Firm's website

But you don't look sick”

I stopped counting a long time ago how many times in a day I hear this.

I'm not entirely sure what sick is supposed to look like. That's the thing: Fluoroquinolone Toxicity is a chronic invisible illness. Ninety-six percent of chronic illnesses are invisible.

All I know is that on any given day, I could be out educating doctors or I could be in agony on the couch. I never know from day to day which one I can manage. Even if I could make it out of the house, you could pass me on the street and never know that I am on the verge on tears because my tendons are flaring, my joints hurt and each step I take is difficult. You wouldn't know that I forgot what you might have said to me 5 minutes ago because my brain is foggy. You wouldn't know that I sat in my car for 20 minutes trying to calm my heart rate because the arrhythmia reared its ugly head today. Or that I stepped on a rouge staple and it embedded in my foot. Only I didn't feel it because half of my left foot is numb; I only noticed it when the sock I put on snagged on it. You wouldn't know that my other foot feels like red-hot pins and needles stinging me.

But you don't look sick”

That's because my skin and my smile hides how terrible I'm feeling. And I'm not alone. I am just one of millions of people around the world who took an antibiotic, hoping to feel better, and instead have a life of pain, suffering, long term adverse reactions, and disability. We took an antibiotic like Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, and Floxin- orally or topically, brand name or generic- because we trusted our doctors and we were never told of the risks. By then, the damage is done and it can affect any part of your body. Sometimes, all it takes is a single pill. Reactions can happen immediately, or even days, weeks, or months later.

But the FDA says it's safe”

That's just as ridiculous as “But you don't look sick.” There are just as many law firms advertising case reviews for patients who were injured from medications and medical devices as there are advertisements from the pharmaceutical industry about their medications. Those medications and devices were once deemed safe by the FDA too. Did you know that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to pay extra to have their products fast-tracked through the review process? This means that proper safety protocols are ignored and clinical trials are flawed.

But a doctor prescribed it”

Maybe so, but doctors often rely on information from the pharmaceutical reps, who downplay the side effects.

But every medication carries risk”

That's not the point. The fact is this: patients are not properly warned. While cautionary information does now exist, it's not enough. The warnings are either incomplete or hidden in other language that does not properly or sufficiently warn.

Would you take an antibiotic if you knew you could develop tendinitis, tendon ruptures, tinnitus, vertigo, muscle weakness or muscle wasting, insomnia, food and chemical sensitivities, retinal tears, seizures, chronic pain, permanent nerve damage, spinal disk degeneration, chronic fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, persistent gastric problems, trouble swallowing, dysautonomia, and arrhythmia?

How about Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimers, Neurosarcoidosis, or MS? According to a report from the FDA themselves, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request, fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, and Floxin can cause these neurodegenerative disorders but they never told patients or doctors.

But the side effects are rare”

Not so much. There are over 20 Million prescriptions written for fluoroquinolones every year. Preliminary data shows that approximately 55% of patients who take a fluoroquinolone will suffer adverse reactions. This means that 11 Million people are adversely affected. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call that rare. Often, patients and doctors don't make the connection between symptoms and having taken a fluoroquinolone and adverse reactions are very under-reported. There is such a need for answers and a serious change in the way these are prescribed that an international non-profit called Quinolone Vigilance Foundation ( was formed to foster, initiate, and fund vital research to better understand how much damage these powerful drugs cause, why it happens, and how the damage can be reversed, or even cured. In addition, they advocate for victims so their voices can be heard. There are also over 60 online groups for support and “calls to action”, where effective and strong advocacy lives and breathes. We all came together to support one another, to share information. We have to, because no one else will. With so many people pushing for long overdue awareness and so many people suffering needlessly, how anyone can say that these side effects are “rare” is baffling.

It's scary enough when adults suffer adverse reactions but consider this: There are over 45,000 prescriptions for fluoroquinolones prescribed to children each year. Children.

But antibiotics kill infections”

Fair enough. But they also kill healthy cells. It's like detonating an atomic bomb to kill a mosquito. There are far safer alternatives to fluoroquinolones. Fluoroquinolones were manufactured for life threatening infections like anthrax or the plague. They were never meant as a first line of defense. And they certainly shouldn't be given when there is no infection. Often, these drugs are given out as a “just in case” measure. Always have your infection cultured before accepting any antibiotic. Always say no to a fluoroquinolone.


But nothing. These are the facts.

For more information, please visit Quinolone Vigilance Foundation at

Rachel Brummert
President/Executive Director

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