Avelox is an antibiotic medication that is associated with rare but sometimes fatal cases of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a skin reaction that can cause massive sections of skin to peel off.
Avelox and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Avelox (moxifloxacin) is an antibiotic medication made by Merck & Co. One of the rarest side effects of Avelox is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a serious and sometimes fatal skin reaction.
Safety Warnings for Avelox
The Prescribing Information (PDF) for Avelox warns about reports of “severe dermatologic reactions (for example, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome).” Merck recommends that patients immediately stop using Avelox at the first appearance of a skin rash, or any other sign of hypersensitivity, and seek medical attention.
Case Reports of Avelox and SJS
The first case report linking Avelox and SJS was published in 2004. In the report, a 23 year-old woman developed flu-like symptoms and a rash after taking Avelox for three days. The rash spread to 40% of her body and she died of kidney and liver failure. Her doctors said there was “strong evidence” Avelox was responsible.
In another case report from 2009, a 44 year-old man who took Avelox for approximately one week developed the most severe form of SJS — Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).
What is SJS?
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare but severe allergic drug-reaction that causes a rash on the skin and mucous membranes. It is a medical emergency that can be deadly. Mild cases of SJS are sometimes diagnosed as a similar skin reaction called erythema multiforme. Severe cases are sometimes diagnosed as Lyell’s syndrome.
Warning Signs of SJS
Just a few doses of Avelox can cause SJS. The first symptoms are a flu-like illness, nausea, or abdominal pain, followed by a skin rash anywhere on the body. The rash is painful and spreads within hours or days. Large blisters develop and the outer layer of skin peels off.
SJS often involves mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, genitals, or intestinal tract. It causes sores that can easily become infected. It can also attack the eyes and cause permanent blindness. Scarring, organ failure, and death are not uncommon.
Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) and SJS
Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), also known as Lyell’s Syndrome, is the same disease as SJS but far more severe. It involves at least 30% of the skin and has a mortality rate of 25-30%. In comparison, SJS involves less than 10% of the skin. While 95% of patients survive SJS, many have complications.
Symptoms of Steven Johnson Disease
- Skin rash (red or purplish)
- Blisters or liquid-filled bumps of various sizes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Generally feeling sick
- Bloodshot eyes
- Sore mouth and throat
- Vision problems