Patients on the antibiotic Avelox (moxifloxacin) have developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). This rare but serious skin reaction can cause permanent disfigurement, blindness, infections, organ failure, or death.
Avelox and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Patients on Avelox have reported serious and sometimes fatal skin reactions, such as “severe dermatologic reactions (for example, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome),” according to the Avelox Prescribing Information (PDF). Patients should discontinue Avelox immediately at the first appearance of a skin rash, or any other sign of hypersensitivity, and seek medical attention.
Case Reports Linking Avelox and SJS
In a case report from 2004, a 23 year-old woman took Avelox for just 3 days before developing flu-like symptoms and a rash. Two days later, the rash covered 40% of her body and she died of kidney and liver failure. There was “strong evidence” that Avelox was responsible, according to her doctors.
Another case report linking Avelox and SJS was published in 2009. In the report, a 44 year-old man developed the most severe form of SJS — Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) — approximately one week after taking Avelox.
What is SJS?
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but life-threatening skin reaction. It starts with flu-like symptoms and a rash. As it spreads, blisters form under the epidermis and the outer layer of skin peels off. In very mild cases, SJS is sometimes diagnosed as erythema multiforme.
SJS can attack the mucous membranes, which are soft tissues lining the inside of the eyes, genitals, mouth, nose, and intestines. In the eyes, SJS can cause severe conjunctivitis, permanent scarring, vision loss, and blindness. Sores on other parts of the body can cause infections and other severe complications, organ failure, or death.
SJS and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN)
SJS involves less than 10% of the skin and has a mortality-rate of around 5%. Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) is the same disease, but involves at least 30% of the skin and has a mortality-rate of 25-30%. Another name for TEN is Lyell’s syndrome, named after Alan Lyell, a doctor who described the first 4 cases of TEN in the 1950s.
Skin Symptoms of SJS
Painful skin rashes, blisters, sores, and skin peeling are the primary symptoms of SJS. The rash can be red or purplish in color. It can start anywhere on the body. It spreads quickly (within hours or days), looks like hives, and causes liquid-filled bumps or blisters of various sizes.
Other Symptoms of SJS
- Flu-like symptoms
- Generally feeling sick
- Itchy skin
- Joint aches
- Bloodshot eyes
- Sore mouth and throat
- Vision problems