He was 77 the day he went to stand up and felt an excruciating pain tear through his left ankle like a knife. His wife called a nursing hotline, who immediately asked Schedin if he was on any medication. When he revealed that he was taking Levaquin for an upper respiratory infection, the nurse ordered the man to stop taking Levaquin immediately due to the risk for Levaquin tendon ruptures.
The nurse also instructed Schedin to call his doctor.
An MRI revealed Schedin's right Achilles tendon was shredded to half its normal thickness. His left tendon was literally hanging together by a few fibers. To this day, years after stopping Levaquin, Schedin's tendons have never fully healed. He requires a brace simply to allow him to be mobile.
He had never heard of the potential for Levaquin tendon problems. At the time, the risk for tendon rupture was relegated to a series of fine print deep in page 3 of the Levaquin label information.
It should be noted that Levaquin hit big in its first year on the market: $135.9 million in sales. By 2000—just four years after its introduction—sales of Levaquin had topped $1 billion.
Various Levaquin lawsuits—including a trial currently being heard in federal court in Minneapolis—allege that the manufacturer of the Levaquin medication failed to warn doctors and other health care professionals—together with their patients—as to the risks associated with taking Levaquin and specifically, Levaquin and Achilles tendon.
Defendant Johnson & Johnson asserts that warnings were sufficient, and that references to potential tendon rupture were documented since Levaquin was approved by the FDA in 1996.
READ MORE LEVAQUIN LEGAL NEWS
On June 1, opening arguments were heard in US District Court in Minneapolis before Judge John Tunheim regarding the case of plaintiff Calvin Christensen. According to a summary appearing June 2 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 84-year-old retired businessman was hospitalized in May 2001 for pneumonia and prescribed Levaquin and a steroid.
The combination resulted in a ruptured Achilles tendon. Christensen required surgery to repair the damage to the levaquin muscle. The plaintiff in this second trial (out of about 1,000 pending) alleges that the manufacturer failed to warn about the potential for tendon injury when Levaquin is used in association with some steroids, and especially in the elderly.