June 30, 2015 — Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit has been hit with a lawsuit from a man who took the antibiotic Levaquin and developed severe nerve damage.
The lawsuit was filed by Gordon Olsommer, who used Levaquin (500-mg) in June and July 2010 for the treatment of bronchitis and a sinus infection. Soon afterward, he began experiencing symptoms of nerve damage and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy.
The lawsuit accuses Janssen of negligence for failing to adequately warn about the risk of peripheral neuropathy, a severe and often permanent type of nerve damage that can occur after taking Levaquin for just a few days.
The label on Levaquin has had warnings about peripheral neuropathy since 2004, but did not warn about the rapid onset of symptoms and potentially irreversible complications until August 2013, soon after the FDA issued a Safety Communication to emphasize this risk information.
According to the lawsuit (PDF):
“The warning label for Levaquin during the period from September 2004 through August 2013 misled Plaintiff and his treating physician by incorrectly advising patients and physicians that peripheral neuropathy associated with Levaquin was ‘rare’ and in any case could be avoided by discontinuing the drug upon the onset of certain symptoms.”
Evidence linking Levaquin and peripheral neuropathy has been growing since as early as 1990. In 2001, a study found that symptoms could appear rapidly and continue after the medication was stopped. Last year, a study of more than 6,000 people with peripheral neuropathy found that “those on fluoroquinolones were at a statistically significant higher risk of developing peripheral neuropathy.”
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