September 17, 2015 — One month after a panel of federal judges centralized 78 lawsuits involving nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) from fluoroquinolone antibiotics, the number of cases has doubled to nearly 200.

In an update (PDF) from the judges, 192 lawsuits had been centralized in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2642) in one federal court in Minnesota under Judge John R. Tunheim.

The lawsuits involve fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin and Avelox. Plaintiffs claim drug-makers knew about the risk of nerve damage but failed to provide adequate warnings.

Nerve damage is an uncommon side effect, but because over 23 million patients received a prescription for a fluoroquinolone antibiotic in 2011 alone, it is possible that thousands of people were injured.

The cases have been coordinated to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and help avoid conflicting rulings in different courts. Lawyers who are appointed into leadership roles will likely select cases for “bellwether” trials. Judge Tunheim has yet to schedule trial dates.

Warning labels on the antibiotics have included warnings about nerve damage since 2004. In August 2013, the FDA ordered drug-makers to update the labels to warn that nerve damage could occur rapidly and cause permanent side effects.

The problem is that studies have been warning about these risks since at least 2001. The FDA warns patients on these drugs:

“Know that it may cause symptoms in the arms or legs such as pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or a change in sensation to light touch, pain or temperature. These symptoms can occur early in treatment and may be permanent.”

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