Texas Law Firm Files 1st Levaquin Nerve Damage LawsuitSeptember 10, 2014 — A law firm in Texas has filed what is believed to be the first-ever lawsuit involving nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), a severe side effect of Levaquin (levofloxacin).

The plaintiff, Karyn Joy Grossman of Baltimore, Maryland, filed her lawsuit (PDF) against Johnson & Johnson, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and McKesson Corporation.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on August 6, 2014.

According to the complaint, the warning label for Levaquin was misleading and failed to provide adequately warnings. Although peripheral neuropathy was added to the label in September 2004, it incorrectly advised patients and doctors that it was “rare” and could be avoided by discontinuing Levaquin when symptoms appeared.

In truth, according to the lawsuit, the onset of peripheral neuropathy is often rapid and discontinuation of Levaquin does not always reverse complications. Although nerve damage is a debilitating side effect, information about peripheral neuropathy was “buried at the bottom of a long list of adverse reactions.”

Evidence linking Levaquin and peripheral neuropathy has been growing for over a decade. The first case reports linking fluoroquinolone antibiotics were reported as early as 1992. Dozens more case reports were published in the 1990s. In 2001, a study of 45 cases found that 80% were “severe,” over 60% persisted for at least one year, and 84% cases occurred within one week.

The lawsuit also complains that Levaquin is marketed as safe and effective, despite the risk of permanent nerve damage:

“Defendants continue to market Levaquin as a first line therapy for common bronchitis, sinusitis and other non-life threatening bacterial infections, conditions for which many other safer antibiotics are available.”

In August 2013, the FDA updated existing warnings with a Safety Communication to emphasize the rapid onset of symptoms and potentially permanent complications. These symptoms may include muscle weakness, chronic pain, burning, tingling, numbness, changes in sensation (texture, temperature, body position, vibration, etc.) and more.

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