Approved by the FDA in 1996, Levaquin, whose generic name is levofloxacin, is part of a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. Levaquin may be administered intravenously or orally, and cures many types of sinus infections and pneumonia. Less frequently, it is prescribed to treat those who have been exposed to anthrax, and to treat certain urinary or chronic prostate infections, kidney infections or skin infections.
Levaquin Linked to Serious Side Effects
Levaquin can cause serious side effects, even after just one use. In addition to making skin extremely sensitive to sunlight, Levaquin may cause tearing of the Achilles' tendon of the heel, liver damage, serious allergic reactions, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia or Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, also known as Erythema multiforme, is a severe skin disorder due to an allergic reaction or infection. Fever, itching, and multiple skin lesions begin to occur. Levaquin may also cause watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, bruising, dizziness, frequent or infrequent urination or numbness. According to WebMD, these effects may be more likely to occur if you are over 60, if you take an oral steroid medication, or if you have had a kidney, heart, or lung transplant. Levaquin also causes serious damage to newborn babies, so it is not recommended for nursing or pregnant mothers. While taking Levaquin, a patient should refrain from taking antacids that contain magnesium or aluminum (such as Maalox, Mylanta, or Rolaids), the ulcer medicine sucralfate (Carafate), didanosine (Videx) powder or chewable tablets or vitamin or mineral supplements that contain iron or zinc.
FDA Issues Warning
On July 8, 2008, the FDA released a notice stating that all fluoroquinolone drugs must have a box warning attached to them.
FDA ALERT [7/8/2008]: FDA is notifying the makers of fluoroquinolone antimicrobial drugs for systemic use of the need to add a boxed warning to the prescribing information about the increased risk of developing tendinitis and tendon rupture in patients taking fluoroquinolones and to develop a Medication Guide for patients. The addition of a boxed warning and a Medication Guide would strengthen the existing warning information already included in the prescribing information for fluoroquinolone drugs.
Fluoroquinolones are associated with an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. This risk is further increased in those over age 60, in kidney, heart, and lung transplant recipients, and with use of concomitant steroid therapy. Physicians should advise patients, at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation, to stop taking the fluoroquinolone, to avoid exercise and use of the affected area, and to promptly contact their doctor about changing to a non-fluoroquinolone antimicrobial drug.
Selection of a fluoroquinolone for the treatment or prevention of an infection should be limited to those conditions that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by bacteria.