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Levaquin, Avelox, and Other Fluoroquinolones Linked to Aortic Aneurysms and Aortic Dissections
New medical evidence establishes a link between fluoroquinolones and serious collagen disorders, including aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections. Any patient who experienced an aortic aneurysm or dissection after taking Levaquin or Avelox, as well as surviving family members of a patient who died from one of those conditions after taking a fluoroquinolone, should consult a personal injury attorney who handles lawsuits against drug companies. Victims of medical conditions associated with Levaquin, Avelox, or generic fluoroquinolones may be entitled to compensation.
What are Fluoroquinolones?
Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics. Fluoroquinolones may be prescribed to treat a variety of infections, including chlamydia, bronchitis, Legionnaires’ disease, pneumonia, Pontiac fever, and food poisoning caused by Salmonella bacteria. Other infectious conditions, such as skin rashes, ear infections, respiratory ailments, sinusitis, infectious diarrhea, and urinary tract infections might also be treated with fluoroquinolones.
Older fluoroquinolones include ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin. Many newer fluoroquinolones have been withdrawn from the market because they produce toxic reactions associated with damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Newer fluoroquinolones that are still on the market include levofloxacin and moxifloxacin. Levofloxacin is marketed as Levaquin by Jannsen Pharmaceuticals. Moxifloxacin is marketed as Avelox by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.
What are Collagen Disorders?
Collagen is a protein found throughout the body, particularly in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Collagen is also present in skin, bones, organs, and blood vessels.
The word “collagen” derives from a Greek word meaning “glue.” The word origin is appropriate because collagen holds the body together. Collagens make it possible for skin, bones, and connective tissues to give the body its structural support.
Collagen disorders are medical conditions that are caused by defects in collagen. Aortic aneurysms are one example of a collagen disorder. Aortic dissection is another.
What is an Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm is the weakening of a section of the aorta, the body’s main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The weakening causes the aorta to bulge, creating the risk that the weakened section might burst. Ruptured aortic aneurysms cause about 15,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Researchers have concluded that aortic aneurysms are associated with “defects in collagen microarchitecture.” A normal aortic wall stretches easily and bounces back to its original shape after stretching. Collagen fibers are responsible for the aorta’s elastic properties. Defects in collagen prevent the fibers from being evenly distributed across the aortic wall, leading to a weakening of sections where normal collagen fibers are lacking.
What is Aortic Dissection?
An aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta separates from the middle layers. The separation is caused by blood surging through a tear in the inner layer. The condition is frequently fatal when the surging blood ruptures the aorta’s outer wall.
Dissection usually occurs at the aortic root, where blood is pumped from the heart at high pressure, or at the aortic arch, where the aorta bends, causing blood that has been traveling up from the heart to turn and begin a descent toward the lower part of the body. Research has demonstrated that structural changes causing a weakening of collagen fibrils in the aortic root, aortic arch, or other parts of the aorta are associated with aortic dissection.
How are Collagen Disorders Associated with Fluoroquinolones?
Fluoroquinolones have long been associated with tendinitis and tendon ruptures. The drugs degrade collagen in the tendons, causing the tendon to weaken. The same kind of collagen that is found in tendons also comprises the majority of collagen found in the walls of the aorta. That led researchers to suspect that drugs like Levaquin and Avelox might cause the walls of the aorta to degrade.
A study published in November 2015 examined 1,477 patients who had been hospitalized for aortic aneurysm or dissection. Each patient was matched to 100 control subjects of the same age and sex. Data was taken from a research database that followed the patients over a period of 11 years.
The study examined whether patients had filled a fluoroquinolone prescription within 60 days of being hospitalized with an aortic aneurysm or dissection. The study also looked at aortic aneurysm or dissection patients who had filled a fluoroquinolone prescription within one year of hospitalization.
The study found that fluoroquinolone use was associated with hospitalization for an aortic aneurysm or dissection. The association was strongest when fluoroquinolones were taken within 60 days of hospitalization, but the association continued to be statistically significant when the drugs were taken at any time within one year prior to hospitalization. The study concluded that fluoroquinolones are associated with an increased risk of developing an aortic aneurysm or an aortic dissection.
A second 2015 study examined a population of 1.7 million older adults over a period of 15 years. Apart from confirming the association between fluoroquinolone use and tendon rupture, the study found that taking fluoroquinolones increased the risk of having an aortic aneurysm and, to a lesser but statistically significant extent, of experiencing an aortic dissection. The researchers concluded that taking a fluoroquinolone was associated with a tripling of the risk of developing an aortic aneurysm.
Having at least one prescription elevated the risk as compared to patients who had never taken a fluoroquinolone, but the highest risks occurred when patients were currently taking one of the drugs. The median time between taking a fluoroquinolone and experiencing an aortic aneurysm was 20 days.
Should I Take Fluoroquinolones?
Taking a fluoroquinolone may be your best treatment option if you have a serious infection. The risks posed by the disease may outweigh the risk of taking the drug. On the other hand, many doctors are expressing concern that powerful drugs like Levaquin and Avelox are overprescribed for relatively simple cases of sinusitis and other infections that could be treated with drugs that do not carry the same risks.
Whether you should take Levaquin or Avelox is a decision you should make in consultation with your doctor. You should, however, make an informed decision. Be sure to ask your doctor about the risks of taking a fluoroquinolone. Make certain that your doctor is aware of the latest medical research concerning the link between fluoroquinolones and collagen disorders, including aortal aneurysms and aortal dissection. If your doctor seems uninformed or is dismissive of your concerns, consider seeking a second opinion.
What Should I Do if I Had an Aortic Aneurysm?
If you took Levaquin, Avelox, or any other fluoroquinolone and at any time thereafter suffered from an aortal aneurysm or an aortal dissection, you may be entitled to compensation. If a family member died of an aortal aneurysm or dissection after taking a fluoroquinolone, you may be entitled to make a wrongful death claim.
Every case turns on its own facts. A personal injury lawyer who represents patients injured by unsafe drugs can evaluate your medical history (or the history of your deceased family member) and can determine whether you are entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. Since there are strict time limits for bringing claims against drug companies, you should ask for an evaluation of your case as soon as you possibly can. The attorneys at Advocate Law Group have decades of experience handling product liability and personal injury claims. We work with leading product liability firms nationwide to help our clients obtain results. Contact us for a free case evaluation.