Cipro (ciprofloxacin) is an antibiotic medication in the fluoroquinolone class. In August 2013, the FDA issued new warnings about evidence linking Cipro and peripheral neuropathy. The FDA previously warned about nerve damage side effects from Cipro in 2004, but they did not warn that peripheral neuropathy can occur rapidly.
What is Cipro?
Cipro (ciprofloxacin) is an oral antibiotic created by Bayer and approved by the FDA in 1987. It is used to treat serious bacterial infections of the skin, respiratory tract, urinary tract, abdomen, and gastrointestinal system. It can also treat and prevent anthrax infection.
Cipro is one of the most popular antibiotics in the United States. In 2011, approximately 23 million patients were prescribed antibiotics, and 70% were prescribed Cipro. Every year, thousands of people are also given injections of Cipro in a hospital setting.
Brand-names for ciprofloxacin include:
- Cipro — Cipro Label (PDF)
- Cipro XR — Cipro XR Label (PDF)
- Cipro XL
- Cipro I.V. (intravenous) — Cipro IV Label (PDF)
Medication Guide on Cipro Updated to Include Peripheral Neuropathy
The following warning has been added to the label for ciprofloxacin:
“Ciprofloxacin should be discontinued immediately if the patient experiences symptoms of peripheral neuropathy including pain, burning, tingling, numbness, and/or weakness, or other alterations of sensation including light touch, pain, temperature, position sense, and vibratory sensation. … Symptoms may occur soon after initiation of Cipro and may be irreversible.”
FDA Warning for Cipro and Peripheral Neuropathy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Safety Warning for Cipro and Peripheral Neuropathy in August 2013. They required stronger warnings about the rapid onset of peripheral neuropathy and symptoms that may be permanent. The FDA warned:
“In some patients the symptoms had been ongoing for more than a year despite discontinuation of the fluoroquinolone. Several patients were continued on the fluoroquinolone drug despite the occurrence of neuropathic symptoms.”
What Should I Do?
Talk to your doctor and review the Medication Guide for Cipro. You should discuss the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and what to do if you develop these symptoms.
If you develop symptoms of nerve damage, seek emergency medical attention. Do not wait — the onset of nerve damage can occur within days. You may need to switch to another antibiotic to treat your infection, but you should not stop taking Cipro as directed without first speaking with a doctor.
Talk to a lawyer. Researchers have known about the link between Cipro and peripheral neuropathy for at least a decade. Our lawyers are concerned that inadequate warnings about this risk may have contributed to your injury.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that interferes with signals between the brain and body. There are over 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy, and Cipro is associated with peripheral neuropathy affecting sensory nerves and large axons. This can lead to a condition called paresthesia, which causes symptoms in the arms and legs.
Many people have problems with coordination, muscle weakness, numbness, or chronic nerve pain. This can make normal daily activities very difficult — especially walking, fastening buttons, and balancing.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
- Change in sensation to light touch, pain, or temperature
- Change in sense of body position
- Loss of reflexes
- Muscle wasting
Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
Treatments for peripheral neuropathy associated with Cipro may only stop the progression of the disease — not cure existing nerve damage. Although nerves can regenerate slowly, their ability is limited.
Treatments for Cipro peripheral neuropathy may include:
- Healthy lifestyle: This will include avoiding exposure to Cipro and similar antibiotics, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting exposure to toxins and alcohol, and eating a balanced diet.
- Medications: This might include painkillers for chronic nerve pain, topical anesthetics, anti-inflammatory drugs, mineral and/or vitamin supplements, antidepressant medications, and more.
- Mobility aids: If nerve damage impedes muscle coordination, patients may need to use a wheelchair, cane, crutches, or braces.