Patients share horror stories from commonly used antibiotics

The FDA on Thursday heard from patients who experienced devastating side effects while using fluoroquinolones.

WASHINGTON D.C. (WRIC) — An FDA panel has found the benefits do not always outweigh the risks when it comes to some commonly prescribed antibiotics.

An ongoing 8News investigation has exposed thousands of complaints about the drugs Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox.

In a rare hearing on Thursday, patients got the opportunity to tell the FDA their stories of devastating side effects, from a Mechanicsvile mom who says the drugs destroyed her life to a woman who says the antibiotics left her handicapped.

“I immediately lost the use of my legs, whole body burning,” said Virginia Dare Kaplan, who was prescribed Levaquin in the past.

Kaplan was one a vibrant actress, model and manager of a fitness center. Now, she struggles to walk. Kaplan told the FDA panel in 2008 she was prescribed Levaquin, a powerful antibiotic that can fight anthrax or a sinus infection. She told the panel her quality of life has never been the same. Even more alarming, Kaplan recent reviewed her medical records and found she didn’t even need those drugs.

“I did not have an infection, I was cultured twice and I did not have an infection,” she said.

Dozens of others stood before the panel sharing their heartbreaking stories.

“Within days of starting Levaquin I completely lost control of my bladder,” Mark Girard said. “I had blood clots and spontaneous tendon ruptures.”

Side effects speakers like Mechanicsville mother Teresa King believe are linked to a group of antibiotics called ‘fluoroquinolones.” They include Cipro, Avelox and Levaquin.

“I have been severely injured since 2006,” King explained. “I beg you, panel, please strengthen the warnings.”

Representatives for the drug manufacturers, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, say these drugs play important role and have been around for a long time.

“Flouroquinolone safety has been well characterized,” Susan Nicholson with Johnson & Johnson said. “Fluoroquinolons have been available for almost 3 decades.”

Thursday’s advisory panel is recommending label changes, but the FDA gets the final say.

8News will continue to follow this developing story. Stay with us for updates. 

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