Her name is Cheri Fakes—a soft-spoken, lovely young woman who one day dreamed of working for Disney as an animator. But her story had a different ending. Her story is one of many compelling first-person accounts featured in the documentary 'Certain Adverse Events' now seen on You Tube.
"In March of 2000 I was prescribed Levaquin for a sinus infection. On the fifth day I couldn't get out of bed. I was 16," she says. "I could draw over two hundred pictures a day which was the industry standard at the time."
After taking Levaquin for five days, "I couldn't pick up a pencil. I just couldn't move. Somebody had to actually pick me up and carry me to the bathroom."
Doctors said the Levaquin medication was not responsible. "They said, 'oh stop taking it, drink a lot of water, the reaction will only last a few days, it's just a little allergic reaction and you'll be fine," Cheri says. But it wasn't fine.
"I had extreme pain in my hands, my feet and my legs, my arms and my back. Skin rashes, ringing in the ears, my Achilles tendon was inflamed to the point of rupturing." She also had to wear dark glasses, inside and out. Her Mom feels so badly because she gave her daughter something that proved dangerous, but they just didn't know.
That is, until a college friend accessed peer-reviewed research into fluroquinolones at her university and finally uncovered the truth. "That literature revealed some really horrifying things to me," said Teri Noto, "that fluroquinolones damaged tendons and cartilage and also damaged the repair mechanisms for the tendons and the cartilage—meaning that this wasn't something that was just going to go away."
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Cheri was in a wheelchair for almost 7 years. "During that time I had to use 38 different orthopedic braces," she says. The pain in her hands intensified. "I couldn't write, I couldn't draw…
"It's been a nightmare."
Patricia gazes at her daughter in disbelief. "How would anyone believe that you could take five pills and eight-and-a-half years later, still be having flare-ups?"
This month Levaquin manufacturer Johnson & Johnson reported third-quarter earnings for Levaquin as down 6.6 percent this year over last, to about $311 million.