The FDA required the Levaquin maker to add a black box warning about the increased risk of developing tendinitis or tendon rupture in 2008. And in 2011, another black box warning was added, stating that levofloxacin may cause worsening of myasthenia gravis symptoms, including muscle weakness and breathing problems??"a potential life-threatening event. Before these warnings, on June 25, 2007, the FDA required the Levaquin maker to add an additional warning to the package inserts, stating that "Other serious and sometimes fatal events have been reported in patients receiving therapy with quinolones, including levofloxacin." One of those events (and there are several) includes irreversible peripheral neuropathy, a condition that Lucille knows too well.
Although Levaquin lawsuits are mainly involved with tendonitis and tendon ruptures, Lucille is certain that Levaquin caused her condition, and she is filing a claim stating as much.
"I had a nasty 'flu bug' in 2006; it was pretty bad so I went to ER," says Lucille. "The hospital doctor prescribed Levaquin and I took the 10-day treatment. It cured the flu but on January 27 (I remember the exact date) I was at work??"I am a correctional officer??"and my legs had swollen so much I thought they would burst out of my uniform. And I had a stabbing pain, like a knife. The warden told me to go back to ER."
Doctors at the ER couldn't figure out what was wrong with Lucille; they advised her to see her primary care doctor or a rheumatologist. The following week, her doctor did some blood work and determined that she didn't have arthritis; all he could do was prescribe pain meds. "The pain was so bad that the painkillers didn't even work," says Lucille. "He kept changing the prescription, and I even took those recalled pain patches. My doctor even thought I might have had a Vitamin D deficiency. 'You really have me stumped,' she said.
"My legs are so swollen and the pain has been so bad that I have even thought of suicide. They get so hot sometimes, like I am on fire. I asked my doctor to cut them off. I was so miserable, to the point that I had to quit work and my life has been a wreck since this happened.
"I totally forgot that I even took this drug! This is how I found out about taking Levaquin. This year, my insurance company didn't want to pay for one of my pain meds so I had to request from my pharmacy a list of all the meds I have taken since 2006. They had to be sure I had taken morphine, patches, the works, before I was prescribed Oxycontin, which doesn't help the pain either.
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"I decided that I was going to kill myself one way or the other. I was in so much stress that I saw a psychiatrist. 'I am not crazy,' I said. 'Pain can make you do things,' he replied. I started smoking again because of the pain and sometimes I stay up days at a time because the pain won't let me sleep."
There have been thousands of Levaquin lawsuits in federal court that have recently been consolidated into multi-district litigation (MDL) in Minnesota. The first bellwether trial resulted in a $1.8 million award to the injured plaintiff.