Last updated: December 4, 2016
I’m a lawyer for people injured by dangerous medications. For years, I’ve been advocating in the courts, in the media, and on Capitol Hill for patients injured by medications. I’m picky about the lawsuits I file: I don’t want to drag families through the legal process unless the science, medicine, and law tells me that we have a good chance to make their lives better through financial compensation. Keep reading for why my law firm has been filing lawsuits against the drug companies that make Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox.
This website answers frequently asked questions about Levaquin lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits, including:
- What happened?
- What steps has the Food and Drug Administration taken?
- Can antibiotics cause aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections?
- Why do doctors prescribe an antibiotic that causes aortic injuries?
- What lawsuits have been filed against Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox? Have there been any settlements?
- Who might have a claim?
Since their introduction in the mid-1980s, the fluoroquinolones have been administered to more than 100 million patients. Millions of patients have taken Levaquin, Cipro, or Avelox for sinus infections, bronchitis, or urinary tract infections. In November 2015, medical researchers (including doctors in emergency medicine, cardiovascular surgery, and radiology) reviewed the medical records of nearly 150,000 patients and found that current users of fluoroquinolones were 2.43 times more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm of dissection. Past users were 1.48 times more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm or dissection. That same month, another group of researchers (including doctors in infectious disease and internal medicine) published their results after following 1.7 million patients for five years. Among those patients, users of fluoroquinolones were 2.72 times more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm or dissection.
What Steps Has The Food and Drug Administration Taken?
As an FDA review panel found last year, the benefits of these drugs “are very modest, at best.” On July 26, 2016, the FDA updated the warning labels of all fluoroquinolone antibiotics to advise doctors that they “should not prescribe systemic fluoroquinolones to patients who have other treatment options for acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS), acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (ABECB), and uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTI) because the risks outweigh the benefits in these patients.” These warnings were prompted, in part, by the sharp rise in cases of peripheral neuropathy in patients taking Levaquin and Cipro. Several years ago, the FDA mandated that Levaquin include a warning about the possibility of tendon rupture.
There’s little scientific evidence in favor of these drugs but, as I describe below, there’s considerable scientific evidence that Levaquin, Cipro, and Avelox break down the collagen in the walls of the aorta, putting patients at risk for aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections. So far, the FDA has not issued a recall for Levaquin, Cipro, or another other fluoroquinolone sold in the past few years.
Can Antibiotics Cause Aortic Aneurysms and Aortic Dissections?
The aorta is main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. An aortic aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of the aorta and an aortic dissection is a tear in that wall.
An aortic aneurysm is a serious medical issue that requires a doctor’s supervision. If an abdominal aortic aneurysm grows to be over 5 centimeters, then the aneurysm should be operated on before it ruptures. As a study in November 2016 found, in the United States, abdominal aneurysms are typically operated on when they reach 5.8 centimeters. In England, it’s 6.4 centimeters, and as a result they have twice the death rate from aortic aneurysm rupture. An aortic dissection is a life-threatening emergency that typically requires immediate surgery, depending on the type of dissection.
Aortic aneurysms are caused by damage to the tissue in the walls of the aorta. Like a garden hose, the aorta is tough and flexible until something breaks down the walls of the tube. If the walls are weakened, then the hose is more likely to develop bubbles or to tear. That’s why the risk of aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections goes up with atherosclerosis and high blood pressure: because those medical conditions cause changes in to the aortic walls. Smoking, too, raises the risk of aortic aneurysms because it causes a breakdown in the cells and tissues of the aorta.
Injuries to the aorta are closely tied with the breakdown of collagen. As one medical article put it, “All aortic diseases are associated with microstructural changes, either to the content or architecture of the connective fibres elastin or collagen.” That’s the problem with fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics are sold in the United States under the names Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox, and Factive. All of these drugs have been shown to break down collagen fibrils. Back in 2008, the Food and Drug Administration demanded the drugs include a black-box warning about the possibility of tendinitis and tendon rupture, precisely because these drugs break down collagen in the body. The Achilles tendon and the aorta are both made up of the same type of collagen.
Why Do Doctors Prescribe An Antibiotic That Causes Fatal Aortic Injuries?
Most doctors have no idea about the connection between these antibiotics and aortic injuries. The situation with fluoroquinolone antibiotics is another predictable tragedy: the drug companies and the FDA have known since at least 2008 that Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox, and Factive break down the essential collagen in the aorta, but even to this day the drug companies don’t warn doctors about the connection. Just last year, an FDA panel proposed sharply reducing the use of these drugs and recognizing fluoroquinolone-associated disability, but the drugs are still out there, still used heavily, and still don’t warn about these serious and fatal complications. How could this happen?
The problem starts with the foolish way that we as a society ensure drugs are safe: we trust the drug companies to tell us when there’s a problem. Federal law is set up so the FDA relies on the drug companies to speak up about side effects as soon as there’s “some basis to believe” (that’s the language in the federal regulation) about a connection between their drug and a side effect. It’s no surprise that the drug companies are more interested in making money than they are in warning doctors and patients about the problems with their drugs.
There are ten types of fluoroquinolone antibiotics: ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, sparfloxacin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin, lomefloxacin, gemifloxacin, enoxacin, and pefloxacin. Even the CDC’s own website asks, “Why are there so many fluoroquinolones on the market?” I think the answer is simple: because drug companies saw a gold rush and wanted to get their own drug on the market.
But gold rush rarely involves any concern about patient safety. The drug companies lobby the FDA to approve the drugs for sinus infections, bronchitis, or urinary tract infections, then, once the drug is on the market, start lobbying the hospitals and the doctors to give the drugs for every bacterial infection under the sun. The drug companies are supposed to look for the signs that their drugs cause other side effects, but they don’t. They don’t want to see them, and they certainly don’t want to start telling doctors and patients that an antibiotic can end up killing someone. Thus, even to this day, despite all the scientific evidence, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, and Factive don’t warn at all about the possibility of aortic aneurysm of dissection. And that’s why we’re filing lawsuits.
What Lawsuits have been Filed Against The Manufacturers of Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox? Have There Been Any Levaquin Lawsuit Settlements?
This isn’t the first time these drugs have been in the courts. Almost a decade ago, hundreds of people filed lawsuits over tendon ruptures caused by Levaquin (particularly ruptures of the Achilles tendon), and those cases ended with settlements. Hundreds more people have filed lawsuits over Levaquin causing peripheral neuropathy, and those lawsuits are still being heard by the courts. Some lawsuits have the feel of a circus: at this very moment, there are several proposed class actions and even a civil racketeering lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson and the former Commissioner of the FDA, alleging collusion in the marketing of Levaquin.
Our lawyers focus on cases that have scientific and legal merit and can be won. Right now, the two main courts for the Levaquin peripheral neuropathy lawsuits are in the state court for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the federal court for Minnesota. It remains to be seen where the aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection cases will be consolidated, but we can handle them nationwide. We represent clients from all fifty states. We’ve been involved in drug litigation from New York to Florida to Texas to California to Washington to Illinois and back again. It’s the nature of this business.
How Do I Find A Levaquin Lawyer For An Aortic Injury Lawsuit?
A lot of lawyers are advertising for these cases. Some of these lawyers are excellent; some of these law firms are the same ones we’re in touch with as we plan how to take on multi-billion-dollar drug companies. But most of them don’t know what they’re doing with these cases, they just want to sign the clients up quickly and then figure out later what to do with them, if anything.
I’ve personally obtained millions of dollars in settlements for clients injured by medications. I’ve been closely involved in nationwide drug lawsuits before, and in prior lawsuits I’ve been appointed by federal courts to advocate against drug companies. We offer free, confidential consultations, and we always represent our clients on a “contingent fee basis,” where we pay all case expenses and where we only take an attorney’s fee if we win. Our clients never open their checkbooks to us for anything: we only recover our expenses and our fees if the case is successful, and we only recover from the settlement or the court judgment.
For a confidential, no-obligation consultation, call (215) 948-2718 or toll-free (844) 459-8719, email me at email@example.com, or use the contact form below.