August 14, 2012 — A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has linked two popular antibiotics, Avelox (moxifloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin) to a risk of liver injury and liver failure in the elderly. Although the injury is very serious, the risk is still relatively small — usually smaller than the risk of not treating respiratory and sinus infections, the two most common illnesses the antibiotics are used to treat.
The researchers analyzed medical records for 144 patients in Ontario between 2002 and 2011. All of the patients were at least 65 years old and were admitted to the hospital to treat acute liver injury. The majority of the patients died — 61.1%, or 88 patients. All of the patients had no history of liver injury, and they all started Avelox or other antibiotics within a month.
The researchers found that “Avelox was associated with a more than two-fold increased risk of admission to the hospital for liver injury,” compared with clarithromycin. Clarithromycin was chosen as a reference because it is not associated with liver injury and it is prescribed for many of the same illnesses as Avelox and Levaquin. The researchers also found that Levaquin was associated with a higher risk of liver injury, but the risk was much lower than with Avelox.
The researchers cautioned that the risk of liver injury was still very rare — affecting just 6 per 100,000 patients who were treated with the antibiotics. Even so, there are many different types of antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone class, and some may have lower risks of side effects than others. If multiple drugs are equally effective but have different safety profiles, it is likely that doctors would choose the safer medication.
Both the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada have published safety warnings about the risk of liver injury associated with Avelox.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of research regarding the comparative safety of different antibiotics and the risk of liver injury. The researchers said, “Although our results require confirmation in other settings, the findings suggest that both moxifloxacin and levofloxacin be considered for regulatory warnings regarding acute liver injury.”
Do I have an Antibiotic Liver Injury Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting antibiotic induced liver injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by Avelox or Levaquin, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dangerous Drug Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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