Levaquin (levofloxacin) is an antibiotic that belongs to a group of drugs known as Fluoroquinolones. The drug is routinely prescribed by physicians to prevent infection by stopping the growth of bacteria in such areas as the lungs, urinary tract and skin.
Levaquin is manufactured and sold by Johnson & Johnson and Ortho-McNeil. The drug was first approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) in December 1996, but quickly became one of the more commonly prescribed antibiotics. For example, in 2005, annual sales reportedly exceeded $2.3 billion. The reason for its enormous profitability is because Levaquin is an expensive antibiotic – a full course of treatment costing as much as $100.00. There are many other antibiotics, including generics, that cost far less and are much safer than Levaquin. Yet, through their marketing efforts, Johnson & Johnson and Ortho-McNeil persuaded doctors that Levaquin offered patients some advantage over less-costly alternatives.
Levaquin has been associated with an increased risk of tendon ruptures, tendon damage and tendonitis – all of which have left many users permanently disabled. While the risk of tendon ruptures has been associated with all Fluroquinolone drugs, the risk appears to be much greater with Levaquin. According to reports received by the FDA, Levaquin-related tendon ruptures accounted for approximately 61% of all Fluoroquinolone-associated ruptures between November 1997 and December 2005, despite the fact that the drug, itself, only accounted for about 45% of all Fluoroquinolones prescriptions during that time.
Further, although the most frequently ruptured tendon associated with Levaquin is the Achilles tendon, reports have linked potential side effects to ruptures of tendons in the shoulder, biceps, hand and thumb. Notably, it is believed that the risk of a Levaquin-related tendon rupture is higher among those who are 60 years of age or older.
In response to a growing number of complaints, the FDA announced in July 2008 that the makers of all Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, including Levaquin, would be forced to add more prominent language about the risks of tendon damage, especially ruptures of the Achilles tendon, to the product’s “black box” warning label. In addition, the manufacturers were forced to provide a medication guide which better informed users about the potential side effects of the drugs. Consumers were to also be notified that they should consult with a physician at the first sign of any tendon pain.
Unfortunately, this warning came far too late for scores of people. Because the manufacturers never adequately warned users to begin with (or their doctors) about the potential side effects of Levaquin, thousands of people needlessly suffered debilitating injuries after using the drug. In many instances, Levaquin-related tendon ruptures have required victims to undergo corrective surgeries as well as extensive rehabilitation. It is also well-known that despite such surgical intervention and rehabilitative therapies, many Levaquin users never completely recovered from their tendon injuries.
If you or a loved one experienced a tendon injury or tendon rupture during or following treatment with Levaquin, or if you would like more information about this litigation, please contact us immediately.
Martin Kane & Kuper, LLC currently represents a number of victims who suffered injuries as a result of this defective antibiotic and our experienced product liability attorneys would be happy to discuss any potential claims you may have. You can reach us for a FREE consultation at our toll-free telephone number, 1-877-NJLAW4U or contact us by email for a free consultation about your potential defective product suit.